Probate and Estate Administration
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The Merriman Law Firm, P.L.L.C.
9990 Coconut Road
Bonita Springs, Florida 34135
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Merriman-Law for Probate and Estate Administration in Southwest Florida
The death of a loved one is a tragic event that is often the most difficult time in a person’s life. Not only does one have to deal with the grief and emotions of losing someone close, but oftentimes there is confusion and uncertainty about the steps that need to be taken after this tragedy to protect and secure the loved one’s property. At The Merriman Law Firm, P.L.L.C., our role is to eliminate this confusion and uncertainty by assisting you with the probate process and the settlement of your loved one’s estate and trust in an effective and competent manner.
Robin D. Merriman II, J.D., LL.M., B.C.S., has been certified by the Florida Bar as an Expert in Wills, Trusts and Estates, which makes him a suitable attorney to represent personal representatives (also known as executors) of estates and trustees of trusts in the trust and estate settlement process.
Probate and Estate Administration
The term “probate” is defined as “the official proving of a will.” However, this terms is also used interchangeably or conjoining with the term “estate.” Technically, a “probate estate” is an estate in which a last will and testament is admitted to “probate,” and this estate needs to be administered in accordance with the decedent’s will. However, the administration of an estate is also necessary where a person dies without a will. In these situations, the decedent is said to have died “intestate” and the disposition of the assets of the estate are governed by the Florida intestacy statutes.
A formal administration of an estate, whether testate or intestate, requires the appointment of a “personal representative,” which is sometimes referred as an “executor.” The personal representative is charged with carrying out the administration of the estate under the supervision of the court. The personal representative must notify beneficiaries and reasonably ascertainable creditors, inventory the assets of the estate, and distribute the estate property to the beneficiaries in accordance with the decedent’s will, if any, and the applicable provision of Florida law. At the Merriman Law Firm, P.L.L.C., we have the experience to assist the personal representative in carrying out the estate administration.
In situations in which the decedent did not significant property (based on value) or is dead for more than two (2) years, an interested person may petition a court for an order of summary administration. In summary administration proceedings, the court does not appoint a personal representative and generally directs and immediate distribution of the assets of the estate to the creditors and the beneficiaries of the estate. At the Merriman Law Firm, P.L.L.C., we have the experience to assist with petitioning the court for an order of summary administration.
When a person who resides in another states dies owning real property in Florida, a Florida ancillary administration is required for the subject real property to be effectively transferred to the beneficiaries of the testate or intestate estate. Robin has experience working with out-of-state executors and personal representative, and their respective attorneys, who need assistance with Florida ancillary probate and estate administrations.
Generally speaking, when homestead is devised or passes to a family member of the decedent, it is protected from creditors of the decedent’s estate (provided they do not own a security interest in the property). It is imperative that a family members who receives protected homestead property obtain an order from the court that declares the property as the decedent’s homestead and directs the disposition of this homestead property directly to those beneficiaries who are to receive it in a manner that does not subject it to the claims of creditors. This can be accomplished in the probate and estate administration proceeding. At the Merriman Law Firm, P.L.L.C, we regularly assist clients in obtaining orders determining the homestead status and declaring disposition of the homestead property.
Where a high net-worth individual passes away, his “gross estate” may be subject to the federal estate and generation-skipping taxes. For purposes of federal gift, estate, and generation-skipping taxes, the term “gross estate” is used, and refers not only to assets of the “probate estate,” but also to assets in certain trusts, jointly owned assets, assets for which there is a designated beneficiary, certain gifts in which the donor (the person who gives the gift) retained an interest, and various other assets. Robin D. Merriman II, J.D., LL.M., B.C.S., has experience assisting clients with estates of or trusts settled by deceased high-net worth individuals, which includes assisting them in completing Federal Estate Tax Returns (IRS Form 706’s).