Probate, Wills, And Estates
Estate planning is an important service offered by our firm. Estate planning is the process by which you designate how your assets should be managed in the event you are incapacitated and how your assets should be distributed at your death. Careful estate planning can minimize expenses at the time of death and ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes. Through the use of wills, powers of attorney (healthcare and financial), living trusts, revocable and irrevocable trusts, our attorneys can help your family preserve wealth for future generations and potentially avoid probate administration. Our attorneys understand that every family and situation is different and we take the time to customize our estate planning services to ensure that the clients’ objectives are satisfied.
Our attorneys are also experienced in handling estate administration through the probate process. When an individual dies, all of the decedent’s assets must be transferred out of his or her name. Assets that are jointly owned, are payable on death or have a beneficiary designation typically do not have to go through probate. All other assets that are titled solely in the decedent’s name must go through probate, which is a court-supervised process for identifying and taking possession of the decedent’s assets, paying the decedent’s debts, and distributing the remaining assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries.
Probate administration can be necessary to execute a decedent’s estate plan or to administer an estate when a person has died without a will. We have counseled and advised personal representatives and beneficiaries on all matters related to the probate process and have assisted families in the administration of estates of all sizes. There are two types of court-supervised probate administration under Florida law: formal administration and summary administration.
Formal administration is the most common form of probate in Florida. If an estate does not qualify for summary administration or one of the other alternatives to probate, it must be formally administered. Even if formal administration is not required, it may still be the best choice of Florida probate proceeding based on the circumstances of the case. In formal administration there is close court supervision of the collection and distribution of the decedent’s assets. The process unfolds in three stages: opening the estate, administering the estate, and closing the estate.
Summary administration is a shortened form of Florida probate that does not require the appointment of a Florida personal representative. Florida summary administration usually requires less time, effort, and expense than formal administration. There are two ways in which an estate can qualify for summary administration in Florida. For summary administration to be available:
- the decedent must have been dead for more than two years, or
- the value of the entire estate subject to administration in Florida, less the value of property exempt from the claims of creditors, must not exceed $75,000. Even if the estate meets one or both of these requirements, summary administration is unavailable if the decedent had a last will and testament that specifically directs formal probate.
If you are interested in discussing our estate planning services and your estate planning options, or any matters pertaining to Florida probate, please do not hesitate to contact us.
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