Probate is the formal legal process that substantiates a will and appoints a personal representative to administer and distribute an estate to the intended beneficiaries. While the use of trusts can help circumvent the probate process, the real problem that often makes the probate process difficult are disputes among heirs and beneficiaries.

Probate Litigation

Probate litigation is the contesting of a will. A will can be contested on various grounds. The most common reasons to contest a will include claims of undue influence, differences in opinion over guardianships, one beneficiary enjoying the full benefits and disputes over who can function as the personal representative. It is not easy to deal with wills and probate. It can even ruin the fabric of family relationships. Plus, the law of limitation is strictly applied to probate litigation. Even if the claim is valid, you are out of luck if you go past the time limit.

How to Avoid Probate

Typically, a living revocable trust is the vehicle to help avoid probate in the event of your death. However, there are types of property that routinely pass outside of probate, such as bank accounts, life insurance proceeds and retirement plan proceeds.

Florida Probate Administration

With reference to small estates, Florida estates often qualify for a summary administration. It is a quicker and less costly form of probate administration. In addition, if the deceased has been dead for over two years, the estate can be managed in summary administration. Florida also has a provision under probate administration to deposit the appropriated assets of a missing heir into registry of the court once the estate property has been sold.

The purpose of probate is to pass ownership of the decedent’s probate assets to beneficiaries when there is no will and to complete the financial affairs of the decedent. It also ensures that the decedent’s creditors are paid off. Probate proceedings are filed with the clerk of the circuit court. It is generally done in the county where the decedent lived or died. However, the goal of estate planning is probate avoidance.

I am experienced in the probate process, including the drafting of trusts, probate administration and probate litigation. I can answer any questions, address your concerns and to help you navigate the probate process.