Do I Need a Probate Lawyer in Florida?
Probate in Florida is a legal process that involves administering a will through the court to ensure the deceased’s wishes are carried out, and assets are distributed according to their intentions. In cases where there is no will, probate is still necessary for the court to determine the rightful distribution of assets and debts.
In the majority of situations in the State of Florida, a probate filing is required, and legal professionals specializing in this area are known as probate lawyers. There are a few exceptions, such as “summary administration” for estates valued below $75,000 or when the executor is the sole beneficiary. However, even in these seemingly simple cases, potential complications can arise, making a consultation with a probate attorney advisable.
Probate becomes more straightforward when the deceased has been deceased for at least two years, and creditors are no longer able to make claims.
Reasons Why Probate is Necessary and/or Advisable
Complex Asset Distribution: Probate can become complex, especially when there are disagreements among family members over the distribution of assets. These disputes could result in separate court actions, leading to prolonged and costly legal proceedings.
Determining Beneficiaries: Without a will, identifying the rightful beneficiaries becomes crucial. In such cases, a probate attorney can petition the court to determine the beneficiaries’ identities.
Validity of the Will: A probate filing helps determine the legitimacy and legality of a will, especially when there are concerns about the deceased’s mental capacity at the time of signing, undue influence, or outright fraud.
Unclaimed Claims: Surviving spouses may be entitled to certain pension and social security claims, but they might be unaware of these entitlements. A probate attorney can help identify and secure such benefits.
Debts and Taxes: A probate lawyer can ascertain which creditors of the deceased must be paid following their death, including any tax obligations.
Even if there are no immediate disputes or complications, seeking advice from a probate attorney is highly recommended. They can handle the probate process efficiently, and in case any issues arise, they can navigate the legal complexities while ensuring the estate representative doesn’t have to appear in court unnecessarily. A consultation with a probate attorney, often offered free of charge, provides valuable guidance and peace of mind during the probate process.