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Tampa Probate Lawyer / Tampa Formal Estate Administration Lawyer

Tampa Formal Estate Administration Lawyer

There are two types of probate in Florida: summary administration and formal administration. Summary administration is sometimes used for small estates (worth less than $75,000) and/or if the person has been dead for more than two years. However, formal administration can be initiated for any estate. It requires more direction from the court than summary administration. In Florida, formal probate follows a defined process.

What Is the Formal Administration Process?

  • Petition for Administration. This is the step that begins probate. An individual petitions the court to be named as the personal representative. If the court approves the personal representative, the process can continue.
  • Establishment of an estate bank account and obtaining an EIN. Florida requires that a separate bank account be used for probate. An estate’s tax identification number – an employer identification number (EIN) – should also be created.
  • Identification and marshalling of assets. The personal representative, after being confirmed by the court, should identify all assets in the estate. Although a Last Will and Testament is helpful, this process is required even if the deceased died without a will (also known as intestate).
  • Notice of Administration. This is a formal notice that probate has begun. Florida has very specific requirements for the information that needs to be included. The personal representative is required to notify all known creditors (people or places that the deceased owed money to). In addition, the Notice of Administration needs to be published in a newspaper in the county where the deceased lived.
  • Pay claims and taxes. Pay any required claims and taxes from the estate bank account. Florida does not have a state-level estate tax, but estates over a certain threshold will owe federal estate taxes. Speak with your attorney to determine what taxes apply.
  • Plan of Distribution. After all creditors and taxes are paid, the remaining amount can be divided up by beneficiaries, according to the Last Will and Testament or according to state law if the estate is intestate. The personal representative will then create a Plan of Distribution to show the court how estate assets will be divided and distributed.
  • Close estate. The personal representative provides an accounting to the court, showing that all debts have been paid. Then, the personal representative can file a Petition for Discharge. This petition must be approved by the court. If it’s approved, the estate formally closes, and any assets that weren’t previously distributed are paid to beneficiaries.

Is a Lawyer Required for Formal Administration?

A lawyer is required in Florida in nearly all probate cases. Even in cases where an attorney isn’t required by law, it’s highly recommended. Florida’s probate laws are complicated and have strict requirements that must be followed. A Florida probate attorney will understand the requirements and help to ensure that all laws are followed.

Do you need an attorney to help you through the Florida probate process? Contact Messina Law Group today.

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