The Basics of Probate


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Most people don’t know anything about probate until they are forced through the process as a result of a loved one’s death. Since probate can be a complex process, it’s important to understand the nuances of probate and prepare yourself for any future experiences with Florida probate.

What Is Probate?

Probate is a legal process that occurs after a person’s death. It proves the validity of the deceased person’s will and then identifies, inventories, and appraises the decedent’s property. As a part of this process, probate also determines how debts and taxes will be paid, then distributes any remaining property based on the instructions in the will. If there is no will in place, state law determines how the deceased person’s property is settled.

More About the Probate Process

Most wills name a specific person to serve as executor of the estate being left behind. The executor is responsible for filing papers in local probate court to begin the probate process. In the instance that a will does not exist or does not elect an executor, a judge can appoint one.

It then becomes the executor’s job to validate the will and present the court with a comprehensive list of all property and debts, as well as a plan for who receives the inheritances that remain. Finally, other relatives and creditors are formally notified of the death. This can last a few months or as long as a few years depending on the contents of the will and levels of debt that need to be resolved.

Is Anything Exempt from Probate?

Certain things can pass down to family members without getting caught up in probate, which emphasizes the importance of proper estate planning early in life. Rules vary from state to state, but it’s often possible to pass a large amount of money as inheritance outside of probate, and property can even be left to a surviving spouse with a transfer procedure.

As you get older, it’s critical to speak with an elder law and estate planning attorney to ensure your family members will be fully covered after your death. At the Law Offices of Kimberly K. Muenter, Attorney Muenter is committed to helping her clients age “well and wisely” using proper estate planning strategies. Call 941.567.1671 today to make your first appointment.