A Melbourne Probate Attorney Can Help You Navigate Florida’s System
Probate is the primary legal process in Florida for resolving an estate and distributing assets after a person’s death, even if they had a will. The complexity of the process and the time it takes vary based on the situation. A seasoned Melbourne probate attorney can help ensure the estate is settled efficiently and effectively.
At Lacey Lyons Rezanka, our attorneys have decades of combined experience helping people navigate the Florida probate process. We help people through the estate planning process by utilizing wills, trusts, and other estate planning tools. By following the estate planning process, our clients can decide where their assets will go and how their families will be cared for when they die.
A Melbourne probate attorney at our firm will take the time to understand your unique personal situation and develop a strategy tailored to your needs and goals. Our lawyers also work with personal representatives and family members after a loved one’s death to complete the probate process.
What is Probate in Florida?
Probate is a court process designed to distribute a person’s assets after they pass away. If there is a will, the assets will generally be distributed following the legal document’s instructions after any creditors are satisfied. If the person died without a will, the court would follow state law in determining how the assets are distributed.
The process is generally much more smooth when the probate court is working with a will. A will gives a person the opportunity to decide ahead of time where their assets will go, instead of leaving it up to a judge. A Melbourne probate attorney at our firm can help you consider, draft and update a will.
When a will is drafted, a personal representative is typically designated. The representative is named in the will or appointed to administer the estate and plays a vital role in the probate process. The representative is responsible for filing the probate petition in court, identifying and gathering all of the assets, and notifying family members, creditors, and other interested parties, among other duties. Florida law requires the personal representative to retain a probate lawyer to advise in the process.
Our Melbourne Probate Attorney Explains the Probate Process for an Estate
Probate is intended to ensure the will was properly executed and assets are distributed following the decedent’s wishes after creditors are satisfied and any challenges to the will are heard. Any estate with more than $75,000 in assets must go through a process called “formal administration.”
Probate Administration Services
Probating an estate is challenging and time-consuming. Our team can assist you with the following:
- Filing the Surrogate Petition and Inventory or Register of Wills
- Collecting assets
- Filing all tax returns
- Settling creditor claims
- Selling businesses and real estate
- Working with heirs
- Obtaining the Executor’s Release of Liability documentation
Many people don’t realize that executors are personally liable, and if you make any mistakes, you could have to pay your own money to correct them. The estate pays all attorney bills, and also, executors have less chance of litigation, and the estate benefits from a quick probate process.
The process begins when the personal representative files a probate petition in a local court. Creditors can then file claims on the estate, and the personal representative will be directed to pay claims the probate court deems valid. State law gives creditors as much as two years to file those claims, but the waiting period can be reduced to 90 days in many situations.
Estates are generally required to be closed within one year, but the time frame can vary widely. The type of assets involved, the number and type of creditors claims, whether assets must be sold to satisfy those claims, and whether there are any challenges or disputes among heirs are all factors.
The process can be complicated and confusing, but a Melbourne probate attorney from Lacey Lyons Rezanka can alleviate unnecessary stress.
Will Challenges During the Probate Process
Anyone looking to challenge the validity of a will can also do so during this time. The most common challenges stem from allegations that the will was not properly executed, was obtained by forgery, fraud, or duress, or the decedent did not have the mental capacity to make or update a will at the time.
If the will is successfully challenged, and in cases where a person dies without a will, the estate assets will be distributed to the decedent’s heirs according to priorities established by state law. A surviving spouse is first in line, followed by the deceased person’s children, grandchildren, and parents.
Do I Need a Melbourne Probate Attorney?
For formal administration to be completed, assets released, and the estate officially closed, the personal representative must complete several specific steps. A Melbourne probate attorney at our firm can help you ensure each legal requirement is satisfied and the process is effectively finished.
For example, the representative is required to notify the decedent’s creditors that the person has died. The representative also has to identify, gather and inventory all of the assets and ensure creditors with valid claims are paid before distributions can be made as directed in the will or by state law.
Florida requires the personal representative to publish a notice containing various information about the estate and the probate proceedings. The representative is also required to perform a diligent search to identify possible creditors. The probate process is not complete, and others cannot be paid until the search and notification obligations are satisfied.
A Melbourne probate attorney at our firm will work with the personal representative to ensure all of the requirements are completed and the estate is settled efficiently. We also represent family members and other loved ones throughout a probate proceeding.
Speak with Lacey Lyons Rezanka Today
Our probate attorneys help people manage their assets and decide how property will be distributed in the event of their death and assist personal representatives and heirs in navigating the probate process. Our offices are conveniently located in Melbourne and Rockledge. Call us at 321-608-0890, email us at email@example.com or contact us online to schedule an appointment with a Melbourne probate attorney.