Probate and Estate Administration

When we lose a loved one we certainly are not thinking about probating the estate of the decedent. However, practically speaking, it is necessary to probate an estate in order to transfer assets to beneficiaries and to pay reasonable claims of creditors against the estate. There is a common misconception that if a person has a will when they die, the probate proceeding is not required. Unfortunately, probate is required if a person dies with or without a will. Probate can only be avoided if a person has prepared a revocable trust and properly funded it.

Probate Procedure

In order for the assets of the decedent to be transferred to the decedent's heirs and beneficiaries, the probate proceeding must be filed in the Circuit Court in the County where the decedent resided. The probate proceeding must be filed by an attorney. In order to start a probate proceeding, a petition for administration is filed. If the decedent had a will, the will must be filed with the probate clerk within 10 days of the decedent's death. A personal representative is appointed by the court that is represented by an attorney. The attorney must represent the estate in the probate proceeding. Upon filing of the petition for administration the court will issue letters of administration, which is the court document that gives the personal representative authority to act in behalf of the estate.

Notice of Administration and Notice To Creditors

Pursuant to Florida law, it is necessary to file and serve the notice of administration and a notice to creditors. The notice of administration is no longer published. It is not served on creditors. However, the decedents surviving spouse and beneficiaries, and the trustee of any revocable trust must be served by formal notice. Also, the notice to creditors must be published for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper published in the County. The personal representative must also make a diligent search to determine the names and addresses of the decedents creditors who are reasonably ascertainable and promptly serve the notice to creditors on those creditors. Once the letters of administration were issued by the court in the notice to creditors are published in served unknown creditors there are many the are many requirements that must be carefully followed the probate proceeding in order to fully administer the estate. The assets cannot be distributed until all requirements have been met. For example, the press representative must compare file 20 of the assets of the decedent's estate and 60 days after the personal representative’s appointment. When the administration of an estate is completed except for distribution. The personal representative must file an accounting petition for discharge including a plan for distribution. It is the final discharge entered by the court, which relieves personal representative of any further responsibility.

Contact a West Palm Beach Probate Attorney

At the law offices of West Palm Beach probate attorney, Stephen J. Press, we strive to protect your rights with professional excellence. We carefully counsel and advise you because we know that this is an emotionally difficult and trying time. Please contact us at 561-833-2772 for a free consultation or contact us online.