Your assets being transferred to your heirs and chosen beneficiaries after your death is something you need to plan for ahead of time to ensure the process follows your wishes and does not get held up in probate court. A Manatee County probate attorney can help ensure your heirs are protected and your last will and testament is executed in a way that secures your final wishes.
The probate court process can be long and burdensome for beneficiaries. In Florida, if an individual does not have a last will and testament, the probate court will determine how your assets are distributed. This is obviously not ideal as it leaves heirs, next of kin, and potential beneficiaries having to fight each other in court over inheritance left in your estate.
If you are the executor of a will, your Manatee County probate attorney will help you decide on which type of probate administration needs to be filed to execute the will. There are three possible types of probate court—Formal Administration, Summary Administration, and Disposition of Personal Property without Administration.
Formal Administration– This type of probate court is reserved for estates valued at more than $75,000. The court will appoint a Personal Representative to administer the estate. This process takes six months to one year to complete.
Summary Administration– When assets are less than $75,000 a summary administration can be filed. When the owner has been deceased for longer than two years, this type of filing is also appropriate. Summary Administration takes anywhere from two to four months.
Disposition of Personal Property without Administration– When an estate consists only of personal property of which the value does not exceed the amount of the funeral or medical expenses, a disposition of personal property without administration can be filed. An example would be your relative passing with $5,000 in their checking account and no other property. Funeral expenses amount to $6,000 and the beneficiary pays the expenses of the funeral. That beneficiary can then apply with the court clerk for an order of judgement that the bank pay out the balance of the checking account to the beneficiary.
Manatee County probate attorney fees vary depending on the type of filing and complexity of the assets. Some assets do not need to be administered through probate court including IRA’s, life insurance policies, 401ks, and other assets where beneficiaries are designated within the policy. These benefits are paid directly to the named representative and cannot be modified after death. Bank accounts and physical property that is jointly owned also does not need probate as the joint owner will automatically become the sole responsibility of the joint owner.
To avoid needing a Manatee County probate attorney, you should work with an elder law attorney that can create a living will and trust for your assets. Planning will prevent your heirs from the headaches and distress that probate court often causes. A living will also protect your interests and wishes should you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself.
If your loved one did not have a living will or trust and you find yourself needing a Manatee County probate attorney to ensure heirs and the deceased are protected, Kimberly K. Muenter has the experience and reputation you can rely on.