Anyone looking to start probate in Florida must know the law surrounding Florida probate deadlines. These timeframes are essential for administrators, creditors, beneficiaries and any potential heirs looking to make a claim.
After the death of a loved one, you need time to grieve. But sadly, Florida probate deadlines don’t provide much space for delays. Swift action is required. If you’re concerned about losing time or missing a Florida probate deadline, then a Florida probate attorney can help.
What Is Probate?
Probate is the court-supervised process of proving a will, gathering the decedent’s assets, paying outstanding debts and distributing the remaining estate by following the instructions in the will.
If there is no will, the Florida probate court will decide who the estate is shared with and how.
What Is the Deadline for Initiating Probate in Florida?
Florida probate deadlines require that ‘Petition for Administration’ and the will must be filed (by the individual in possession of the will) with the court within ten days of being notified of the decedent’s death.
The filing must be completed at the Florida probate court in the county where the deceased was a resident.
The size of the estate does not affect this deadline.
Although this deadline is not strictly enforced, filing within the timeframe is highly advised to ensure the personal representative has the power to act on behalf of the estate.
Other Important Florida Probate Deadlines:
Anyone looking to start probate in Florida should be aware of key steps that must be taken by the family, court and personal representative.
Summary administration (used for estates valued under $75,000) bypasses some of these steps.
Once a petition for probate has been filed, the other Florida probate deadlines include:
Appointing the Personal Representative with Letters of Administration
The Florida probate court will issue letters of administration to the personal representative within 1-4 weeks. This gives the personal representative permission to administer the estate.
Will Contest Deadlines
Personal representatives will then notify the beneficiaries listed in the will and any other potential heirs that the administration process has begun.
Beneficiaries and interested parties then have a deadline for contesting the validity of the will.
In Florida, there are several deadlines for contesting wills, depending on the circumstances.
Generally, you have just 90 days after the notice of administration has been filed, to make a will contest in Florida.
However, if a Formal Notice of Administration has been provided before the probate process has begun, then you have just 20 days.
Given the deadlines are extremely short and strict, it is highly advised that anyone looking to make a will contest in Florida speaks to a Florida probate attorney as soon as possible.
An attorney will review your case and can take the appropriate action without missing crucial deadlines.
Personal representatives must identify and notify the deceased’s creditors of the death and opening of the estate, promptly.
The notice must be published for two consecutive weeks. Florida probate deadlines require creditors to file their claims no later than 30 days after being directly notified and within three months after publication of a notice.
Proof of Death
In formal administration, formal proof of death (such as a death certificate, must be filed with the court within three months of notice to creditors.
For summary administration, it must be filed before the start of the process.
Responding to Creditor Claims
Personal representatives must respond to creditor claims through payments or objections within 30 days of the creditor coming forward.
The creditor then has 30 days to file an independent action against the estate or waive the claim.
Elective Share Law
Within the first six months of the Florida probate process, surviving spouses can choose whether to exercise rights that allow them to Florida’s elective share.
Alternatively, you may have two years since the date of death to claim Florida’s elective share.
Elective share gives surviving spouses the rights to shared homes and a share of the overall estate, instead of whatever the will designated them.
After creditor claims are settled, remaining assets must be distributed as the will instructs.
Each beneficiary should sign a receipt acknowledging they have received their inheritance.
The personal representative must then file these with the Florida probate court within one year of receiving their initial Letters of Administration.
Closure of the Estate
Once all assets are shared and claims are settled, the personal representative can file a petition to close the estate and bring the Florida probate process to a close.
How Long Do I Have to Contest a Trust in Florida?
Alternatively, if the decedent had a Trust in place, things can become more complicated.
In most cases, you will have just six months to make a Trust contest. However, it really depends on the specific case.
Without a generic answer available, it is highly advised anyone looking to contest a Trust speaks to a Florida Trust contest attorney as soon as possible. Delays could see you miss out on your share to a Trust.
Quick Summary of Florida Probate Deadlines:
|Initiating the probate process||10 days after the death.|
|Will contest||20 days to 3 months after notice of administration.|
|Creditor claims||Creditors must make claims within 30 days of direct notification and 3 months of publication.|
|Filing formal proof of death||Within 3 months of notice to creditors in a formal administration.
Before the probate process begins, in summary, administration.
|Responding to creditor claims||Within 30 days of creditors coming forward.|
|Exercising Florida elective share law||Within 6 months of the administration notice or 2 years since the date of death.|
|Filing beneficiary receipts||Within one year.|
Are There Any Other Florida Probate Deadlines?
Listed above are the most common Florida probate deadlines. However, there may be additional key dates specific to your case. It is always recommended that anyone administering an estate speaks to a Florida probate attorney.
Further Information on Florida Probate?
If you have any further questions regarding Florida probate, check out our Florida Probate FAQs or contact us for a free consultation.
Contact a Florida Probate Attorney
Whether you’re a personal administrator, beneficiary or potential heir, we welcome anyone in need of expert help to speak to our Florida probate attorneys.
Our attorneys can review your case and provide expert legal advice on any unusual circumstances while guiding you through the process – stress-free and for the benefit of all involved.
Battaglia, Ross, Dicus & McQuaid, P.A. is a 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 navigate Florida probate deadlines without stress and wasted time.
Schedule a free consultation today to get started or to get any questions answered.