What is Probate?
When you are creating your estate plan or finalizing the estate after the passing of a loved one, you will hear the term “probate” quite often. Probate simply means the official proving of a will. Probate is the court-supervised process where the executor carries out the will and the estate is finalized. An estate attorney assists the executor with the estate administration.
Probate can be specific to your estate and is affected by things like if you don’t have a will. Here are some general yet crucial things to know about probate and common questions about the probate process. As always, it’s essential to consult with an attorney for any questions or concerns you have about probate.
Types of Probate
Because each of our lives is unique with different finances, real estate, estate planning, and such, there are different types of probate to cover various situations. Most Florida estates go through either formal administration or summary administration. Merriman Law professionals have experience with both types of probate and can provide expert guidance along the way.
Formal administration is the most common and standard type of probate. This takes place in the county court where the deceased individual lived at the time of their death. Once this process begins, the executor named in the will requests to be the personal representative for the estate. Beneficiaries in the will and any creditors are notified. When the petition is granted to the executor, here or she will begin all of the estate administration tasks.
Summary administration is a less common form of probate, but it’s still available. This type of probate happens when the total value of assets is worth less than $75,000, or the death occurred over two years ago. The summary administration process begins with a Petition for Summary Administration signed by the surviving spouse or beneficiaries. Because of the circumstances surrounding estates that require summary administration, this is an expedited probate process.
Frequently Asked Questions About Probate
All of this information about probate probably leads to some valid questions. However, with probate involving so many different factors, there’s not usually a one-size-fits-all answer to probate questions. Understand that your specific situation may require more guidance than what a general question can answer. These are some common questions that occur during the probate process that you should know if you ever go through probate after a loved one’s death.
- How long does probate take?
Since each of our estates is different, there is no set time for how long probate takes. The probate process length depends on the size of the estate, any disputes from beneficiaries or creditors, and if there was an estate plan in place. The potential complexity of probate is why it is vital to have a will and estate plan in place before your death! Planning ahead of time and informing all parties involved can save your loved ones a lot of stress during probate. Generally speaking, probate can take anywhere from 6-12 months.
- Do I need an attorney for probate?
You will need a probate attorney to represent you during the probate hearing. While this is a legal requirement in Florida, it’s to your benefit when you’re going through the process for a loved one’s estate. An expert estate planning and probate attorney has many years of valuable experience to help make this process as simple as possible. The attorney has the estate’s best interest in mind, and their knowledge ensures probate is efficient and effective.
- Can my estate avoid probate?
Some of your assets are not required to go through probate. For example, living trusts, joint ownership, and assets with beneficiaries may not require the probate process upon death. Each estate plan is unique, though, so it’s wise to discuss your assets and estate plan with an estate planning attorney as you make plans. We will help provide the proper education so you can make an informed decision on what’s best for you and your family.
Trust Merriman Law With Probate Administration
Probate might seem like an overwhelming process, but it doesn’t have to be. When you know what to expect from the beginning and have the right attorney, it can be a simple process from beginning to end. Whether you’re going through the probate process for a loved one or looking for your own estate planning, the professionals at Merriman Law can help. Our team of professionals offers a free initial consultation to understand your needs and best serve you from there.
This is already a tough season for you and your family, so don’t let the probate process be an added burden. Instead, get informed, bring in wise counsel, and stay organized for the smoothest process possible. Contact Merriman Law today and stay up-to-date with us on Facebook and Instagram.