When a loved one passes away, there are immediate considerations that must be made to settle the deceased’s affairs. In most cases, an executor or power of attorney will be named in the deceased’s will, but other times a next of kin will be appointed by the courts to be executor. If you’ve recently been named as the executor in someone’s estate, you might be told by an attorney that you need to probate the will. If you’ve never been through the process before, knowing how to probate a will can be challenging. We’ve laid out the beginning steps of what you need to know about probating a will to make the process a little easier on you.
What is Probate? Probate is when a court supervises the process of finding, gathering, and distributing the assets of a deceased person after making sure that all their debts are satisfied. Assets will first be put towards paying for the probate costs, then the reasonable funeral expenses. After the funeral debts are settled, the remaining assets will go to debtors and then distributed to the beneficiaries named in the will. There are two types of probate in Florida—summary and formal administration. How to probate a will depends on what type of probate you need. Probate assets can be bank accounts, investments, life insurance policies, IRAs, real estate holdings, and property owned by the individual or spouses. Probate is often necessary to legally transfer ownership of the property from the deceased to the beneficiaries.
How to Probate the Will
There are a few steps to take to probate a will in Florida. Generally, an estate planning attorney will help you through the process.
- The custodian of the will must file with the circuit clerk within ten days of discovering the person is deceased.
- A filing fee must be paid to the circuit clerk for opening a probate case.
- A circuit court judge will be assigned to preside over probate proceedings.
- The judge will determine if the will is valid and will consider evidence proving the identity of heirs. The judge also determines if the executor named in the will is qualified for the position.
- Hearings will be held as necessary if there are any disputes to the will or distribution of assets.
There are many details involved in paying debtors, distributing assets, and working through all the deceased’s wishes laid out in their will. Working with an estate planning attorney (usually the one that drew up the will) is always a great idea to help ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible, and the executor meets all their legal obligations.
If you’ve recently been named a personal representative or executor of an estate, call The Law Office of Kimberly Muenter, P.A. at 941-260-2603.