Probate is the legal process of administering a deceased person’s estate under court supervision. Not every estate must go through the probate process, but most do. Unfortunately, there are many complications which can confuse families which have never gone through the probate process before. At Loughlin Law, P.A., we can assist surviving family members with navigating the probate process.
A Closer Look at Probate
The majority of people leave behind an estate, which is made up of the assets they held at the time of their death. These individuals may also have some debts, even something as small as a utility bill, that need to be considered. Probate is the process of gathering estate assets and paying off debts before distributing what is left over to heirs and beneficiaries.
However, it is important to note that not all assets go through the probate process. If you have a life insurance policy or retirement account, those assets will pass to the person named as a beneficiary on the account. It is important though to make sure that a named beneficiary is listed, otherwise they will pass through probate. Other assets, like real estate, might also pass outside of probate depending on how the property is deeded.
The estate will be guided through probate with the support of a personal representative. If your loved one passed and had a will, then it should name a person to fulfill this role. If there was no will, the probate court will appoint someone to serve in this role.
When a person dies, probate normally takes the following steps:
- Submission of a will to the probate court.
- Appointment of the personal representative.
- Gathering and safekeeping estate assets.
- Publishing a notice to creditors that the deceased has passed.
- Paying, rejecting, or settling claims against the estate.
- Distributing estate assets to beneficiaries named under the will or family members if there was no will.
- Paying estate taxes and closing the estate.
The length of time for probate will depend on the estate’s size and complexity. Even relatively simple estates could take more than six months to go through the probate process from beginning to end.
Why Should You Hire a Probate Attorney?
Probate might sound simple and orderly, but many problems can arise that warrant legal help. Our Boca Beach probate attorney has represented heirs looking to contest a will, the personal representative, or other interested parties during this process. Some of the legal issues we can help with include:
There might be a dispute over whether the will is valid. For example, it might not have followed Florida’s formalities, or the deceased could have lacked capacity when the will was drafted. If the will is set aside, an earlier will might take its place, or the estate could pass according to Florida’s intestacy laws. We can help family members challenge a will or assist the personal representative in defending it.
It is not always obvious whether a claim submitted to the estate is valid. For example, someone might claim the deceased took out a personal loan but have no paperwork to prove it. The personal representative must assess all claims and then accept, reject, or settle them. We can help you determine whether a claim is valid, negotiate settlements or defend the estate in a lawsuit.
Collecting Estate Assets
Many challenges arise when trying to collect the deceased’s property. For example, the decedent might have lent a car to a nephew, or relatives could be squatting on the property.
Advising Personal Representatives
The personal representative owes duties to the estate beneficiaries, such as a duty to follow instructions in the will and a duty to use care when carrying out their responsibilities. We can advise any personal representative who has a question so that they do not run afoul of the law. If a personal representative is careless or unfairly favors one beneficiary, they could face a lawsuit.
Not all estates need to go through probate. Instead, you might use disposition without administration or summary disposition. We can advise which option works best for the estate.
Benefits of Hiring a Probate Attorney
Our clients benefit greatly from hiring an experienced Boca Beach probate attorney:
- Peace of mind. We can file the correct paperwork and reduce the chances of rejection from the probate court.
- Reduction in family friction. Many disputes arise when the personal representative is a family member, like a sibling. If you hire a lawyer, you can refer any angry family member to the lawyer for an explanation of what is happening.
- Faster disposition of an estate. Money is often tight after a loved one’s death, and we can facilitate the smooth administration of an estate so that assets are distributed sooner.
- Few people are fully prepared to act as the personal representative. We can ensure you make sound choices to protect yourself and the family.
Contact Loughlin Law to Speak with a Boca Beach Probate Attorney
If you would like to learn more, then please contact us at 561-921-5751 to schedule a confidential consultation.SCHEDULE VIRTUAL APPOINTMENT