When a loved one passes away and there are outstanding debts to pay, but no plan to pay them, the situation is doubly difficult — dealing with the loss is combined with an unfamiliar and sometimes overwhelming process.
It can feel like a daunting scavenger hunt to find out what assets exist, find all heirs, and determine all creditors. In addition, appearing before a judge or court is often a new and intimidating experience, and Florida probate rule 5.030 requires all personal representatives to be represented by an attorney admitted to practice in Florida, unless the representative is the sole interested person (only beneficiary and heir).
A typical probate process takes between six months and a year, and each situation is completely unique, involving asset/title change questions including:
- Did the decedent have a will?
- Who are the beneficiaries?
- Was the decedent married and did he or she have minor children?
- What assets did the decedent have in his/her name alone?
- What debts/creditors need to be paid?
Depending on the wishes of the heirs and decedents and the answers to these questions, there may be several routes to pursue (some of which are obligatory) including:
- A shorter version of probate called a Summary Administration
- Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration
- Appointment of a personal representative to perform certain tasks
- Publishing of a notice to creditors
- Dealing with potential claims (good and bad)
- Filing of determination of homestead to protect the decedent's homestead from creditors, so it descends to the rightful heirs under Florida law
- Estate closing
The process can be intensely complicated and result in hours and thousands of dollars lost if not properly handled. An experienced legal advocate is the solution.
Fort Lauderdale Estate Inheritance Lawyers
We are committed to understanding your family dynamic from our initial consultation by asking every imaginable question to determine the best options for your family in probate.
While general practicing attorneys may leave out information because they aren't familiar with the intricacies of the probate process, these issues are a cornerstone of our practice — there's no probate too complex for our firm.
It is our goal to arrive at the most efficient, economical and stress-free situation for you and your loved ones in the long run.
To discuss any aspect of the Florida probate process with one of our Pompano Beach probate lawyers call 954-942-6633 or e-mail us here.