How Long Does Florida Probate Take and Why?

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    How Long Does Florida Probate Take and Why?

    How Long Does Florida Probate Take and Why?

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    Florida probate is often a long and complicated process that many people seek to avoid. This can delay heirs from receiving their inheritance and cause tension throughout the family.

    However, the more you and your family know about it, the easier it can be to navigate. There are also various avenues you can take to avoid probate, such as creating a Trust in advance.

    In this blog, we’re going to explain exactly how long Florida probate takes, why and how Florida probate attorneys can help:

    How Long Does Probate Take in Florida?

    The formal probate process in Florida takes between 3-12 months in typical circumstances, from start to finish. However, there have been instances with big estates where the process has lasted years due to will contests and complications.

    • Up to three months for simple, smaller estates
    • Up to one year for standard formal administrations
    • Two or more years for larger, complex and litigated estates

    This process includes:

    • The appointment of a personal representative
    • A 90-day creditor’s period
    • Payment of creditor’s claims
    • Asset sale and management.

    What is Probate in Florida?

    Probate is the process of proving a Will, by ensuring the deceased’s estate is distributed fairly among the heirs by following the deceased’s wishes stated in their Will.

    If no Will is left behind, the process will go through a probate court to determine how the estate is distributed.

    In most cases, an estate will go through Formal Administration.

    However, smaller estates that are valued under $75,000 may go through Summary Administration which is an abbreviated form of probate. Summary Administration does not feature the appointment of a personal representative.

    If two years have passed since the date of death, then Summary Administration will also be suitable.

    Why Does Florida Probate Take So Long?

    Let’s break down what makes Florida probate take as long as it does by going over the process:

    Meeting an Attorney

    The first step anyone should take is meeting a Florida probate lawyer. Our team, for example, can help gather important documentation, including the will and death certificate, which will be required to complete the process.

    If you’re the named executor, a Florida probate attorney can also help you review the estate and assets, navigating the required steps such as handling debts and asset distribution.

    Delays could be caused during this step if you use an unreputable lawyer who wastes time and causes complications.

    Filing for Probate – 10 Day Deadline

    The Florida probate process truly begins once the Petition for Administration has been filed with the probate court in the county where the deceased lived.

    Note that the person in possession of the will has just ten days from the death date to file for probate.

    The size of the estate does not affect the ten days available to file the petition.

    Notifying the Heirs

    During the time of filing, the executor of the will must also formally notify those named in the deceased’s Will and all potential legal heirs that the process has begun.

    Letters of Administration

    You will then need to wait for the court to issue Letters of Administration, which may take several weeks.

    These documents will designate the executor as the personal representative, allowing them to access the assets and continue with their administrative obligations.

    Notifying the Deceased’s Creditors

    After the probate process has started, the executor must publish a notice to creditors.

    The law specifies this must be done promptly and usually takes around two weeks.

    To avoid delays, creditors have 90 days from the date of notice to file their claims.

    Proving Death

    An executor must show evidence of the death to creditors within three months of the notice if the probate is being carried out through formal administration or ancillary proceedings.

    Verified Statement

    After the creditors have been noticed, a verified statement is submitted to the probate court within four months.

    This statement records that all creditors with a claim against the estate have been accounted for.

    Inventory the Estate

    The total worth of the deceased’s estate must be calculated. This is carried out by thoroughly listing and valuing the deceased’s property, belongings, bank accounts, mutual funds, bonds, stocks, titles and other assets.

    The personal representative must then file it with the court.

    Proving the Validity of the Will

    The probate court shall determine the validity of the will. This will include ensuring it is signed properly, witnessed and was not done fraudulently or under undue influence.

    Close Creditor Period

    After three months have passed since the creditors were notified, the personal representative will begin closing the estate – starting with paying all standing debts.

    Debts will be paid off through the funds available in the estate account. If there is no money available, assets and property will be sold to cover the costs.

    Handling Estate Taxes

    Next come income tax returns – including federal estate taxes. Personal representatives could be personally liable for any unpaid taxes or penalties at this point, so it is highly advised that you have the support of an experienced Florida probate attorney at this stage to ensure you do everything as the law demands.

    Final Estate Accounting

    Up to this point, the personal representative should have been keeping detailed records of every action they’ve taken.

    These records must now be organized and consolidated – this will include accounting for every expense from probate fees and creditor payments to attorney fees.

    Potential Objections

    The accounting must then be filed to the probate court, giving interested parties 30 days to challenge.

    When the estate’s accounting is challenged, Florida probate takes considerably longer to complete.

    Distribution of Remaining Estate

    After all previous steps have been completed, the named beneficiaries can receive their inheritances as stated in the Will.

    All recipes of distribution must be provided to the court. Any contests at this point can significantly slow down the closing of the probate process.

    Closing of the Estate

    After the estate has been distributed, the personal representative has one final step to complete – discharging themselves from their fiduciary position.

    Then, the estate can be closed and the Florida probate process is finally completed.

    Contact a Florida Probate Attorney

    If your family needs to carry out the probate process or you need any legal advice following the death of a loved one, you should contact a Florida probate attorney as soon as possible.

    Doing so may help you avoid a long and expensive probate process while protecting your inheritance rights.

    Alternatively, if you’re looking to avoid the probate process through estate planning, we can consult you on what steps to take.

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    Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is U.S. News and World Reports Tier 1 law firm in Florida, specializing in Estate Planning & Probate since 1958. With award-winning experienced attorneys, they can help you resolve a family probate dispute.

    Schedule a free consultation today to get started or to get any questions answered.

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