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Wesley Chapel Probate Lawyer

Probate is the court-supervised legal process required to validate and give effect to a will and otherwise distribute a decedent’s estate in accordance with their estate planning documents or Florida laws of intestate succession. In Wesley Chapel, probate falls under the jurisdiction of the Hillsborough County Probate, Guardianship, and Trust Department, aka Probate Court. Probate can be a complicated and time-consuming process, but with the help of our experienced Wesley Chapel probate lawyer at Messina Law Group, probate can be completed smoothly and efficiently, so that heirs and beneficiaries receive their inheritances sooner rather than later and with minimum amounts of anxiety or stress.

How Does the Probate Process Work?

Probate in Florida involves many steps that must take place after someone passes away. It involves proving in court that a deceased person’s will is valid, identifying and inventorying the deceased’s property, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining property as the will (or Florida statutes, if there is no will) directs. This process can be complex, so we’ve broken it down below into a step-by-step guide. The executor of the estate is encouraged to seek out legal assistance for advice and guidance on any or all of these steps.

Step 1: Determine the Type of Probate

Florida has three main types of probate: formal administration, summary administration, and disposition without administration.

  • Formal Administration: Used when the value of the estate exceeds $75,000 or if the decedent has been deceased for less than two years. This is the most common form of probate and involves appointing a personal representative to handle the estate.
  • Summary Administration: This is a simplified probate process used when the value of the estate is less than $75,000, or the decedent has been deceased for more than two years.
  • Disposition Without Administration: This process is available for very small estates where the assets are exempt from creditors or don’t exceed the final expenses.

Step 2: File a Petition

The Florida probate process officially begins when a petition is filed with the probate court in the county where the deceased person lived. If there is a will, it should be submitted with the petition. The court will then issue Letters of Administration, which grant the personal representative the authority to act on behalf of the estate.

Step 3: Notify Creditors and Heirs

Florida law requires the personal representative to notify all known creditors of the estate and publish a notice to creditors in a local newspaper. This gives creditors a chance to file claims against the estate. The personal representative must also notify all beneficiaries and heirs that the will is being probated.

Step 4: Inventory Estate Assets

The personal representative is responsible for taking an inventory of the estate’s assets, including real estate, bank accounts, stocks, and personal property. This inventory must be filed with the court and provided to all interested parties.

Step 5: Pay Debts and Taxes

The estate’s debts, including funeral expenses, outstanding bills, and taxes, must be paid before any assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries. If there are not enough assets to cover the debts, the state’s laws determine the order in which debts are paid.

Step 6: Distribute Remaining Assets

After all debts and taxes have been paid, the remaining assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the will or, if there’s no will, according to Florida’s intestacy laws.

Step 7: Close the Estate

Once all debts have been paid and assets distributed, the personal representative must file a final accounting with the court and a petition for discharge. This petition outlines all actions taken during the probate process. Once approved, the court will issue an order formally closing the estate.

Call on the Skilled and Experienced Wesley Chapel Probate Attorneys at Messina Law Group for Help

As you can see, the steps required to complete the probate process in Florida can be time-consuming and complex, but an experienced probate attorney can help the process move along efficiently. At Messina Law Group, our experienced Wesley Chapel probate lawyers are here to guide you every step of the way, answering your questions and performing any tasks that require legal skill and expertise. Call Messina Law Group today, and let us help you through the Florida probate process expertly and efficiently.

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