The probate process is the legal procedure for distributing a deceased person’s assets to their beneficiaries. The process typically involves verifying the validity of the deceased person’s will, if one exists, and managing the distribution of assets according to the will or Florida intestacy law if there is no will.
It is important to understand the probate deadlines in Florida to ensure that the probate process is handled correctly and efficiently. Failing to meet the deadlines can result in serious consequences, including delays in the distribution of assets and potential legal issues.
The purpose of this blog post is to provide a comprehensive guide to the probate process in Florida, including the probate deadlines. The post is intended for those who have recently lost a loved one and need to know the steps to take to file probate and ensure that the assets are distributed according to the deceased person’s wishes or state law. With this information, individuals can make informed decisions and take the necessary steps to ensure that the probate process is handled correctly.
OVERVIEW OF PROBATE IN FLORIDA
Florida Probate is a Court administered proceeding to transfer a decedent’s assets to his/her rightful heirs or beneficiaries according to a Will if one exists and if not pursuant to state law. It also provides a procedure for creditors to file claims against those assets for unpaid debt.
The probate administration process in Florida typically involves the following steps:
Filing the appropriate probate documents with the court
Appointing an executor or personal representative to manage the estate
Notifying creditors and potential heirs of the probate proceedings
Identifying and collecting the deceased person’s assets
Paying any debts, taxes, and other obligations of the estate
Providing an accounting to interested parties if required
Distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries
Closing the estate.
- Probate Deadline in Florida
While there is no statute of limitations on the initiation of a Probate case in Florida there are several major factors that require a prompt administration. First consider Fla. Stat. 732.901 – Production of Wills:
732.901 Production of wills.—
(1) The custodian of a will must deposit the will with the clerk of the court having venue of the estate of the decedent within 10 days after receiving information that the testator is dead. The custodian must supply the testator’s date of death or social security number to the clerk upon deposit.
(2) Upon petition and notice, the custodian of any will may be compelled to produce and deposit the will as provided in subsection (1). All costs, damages, and a reasonable attorney’s fee shall be adjudged to petitioner against the delinquent custodian if the court finds that the custodian had no just or reasonable cause for failing to deposit the will.
So the failure to timely deposit a Last Will and Testament within ten days of the date of death is a violation of Florida law and can also lead to the recovery of attorney fees. In Florida a Last Will and Testament should be provided to the appropriate clerk of court (where the decedent resided or owned property). Then the Clerk of Court will create what is called a Will Deposit Case number. Notably this is not the initiation of a Probate but it is a requirement and the depositing of a Last Will and Testament will often motivate beneficiaries to begin.
Although no “statute of limitations” for a Probate administration exists I routinely run into families that have waited too long and it creates a problem for administration because they fail to understand per stirpes distribution and the passage of time may create multiple sub estates. For example, take a property owner A with three children B, C & D. If years go by before A’s Estate is probated and his children lose touch or die, then you have major problems with finding and tracking down heirs.
Another problem that I have seen is fraud. If you do nothing and file and are not paying attention then heirs can file under your nose and you may not be made aware. Our office has dozens of Clients who now need to sue to recover assets that were probated to incorrect heirs, had they timely filed this would not have been an issue.
- TIPS FOR INITIATING A FLORIDA PROBATE
. Tips for Filing Probate in a Timely Manner
A. Gather all necessary documentation
It is important to gather all necessary documentation, such as the deceased person’s will, death certificate, and any other relevant documents, as soon as possible. This will help to ensure that the probate process can be started in a timely manner and that any potential legal or financial consequences are avoided.
B. Retain an experienced probate attorney
Finding a qualified probate attorney is one of the best ways to ensure that the probate process is handled correctly and efficiently. An experienced probate attorney can help individuals understand the probate deadlines, navigate the probate administration process, and handle any legal or financial issues that may arise.
C. Communicate with beneficiaries and creditors
Open communication with the estate’s beneficiaries and creditors can help to resolve any disputes or issues that may arise during the probate process. This can help to ensure that the probate process is completed in a timely manner.
D. Keep detailed records
Keeping detailed records of all transactions and communications related to the probate process can help to ensure that the process is handled correctly and that any legal or financial issues are resolved quickly.
E. Stay organized
Staying organized and keeping track of important deadlines and appointments can help to ensure that the probate process is completed in a timely manner. This can help to minimize any potential legal or financial consequences and ensure that the deceased person’s assets are distributed according to their wishes or state law.
Probate can be a complex and time-consuming process. In almost every Probate administration you are better off handling the administration sooner rather than later. Our office handles hundreds of Estates per year, throughout the State of Florida. We love helping folks just like you with Probate, Trusts and Estates. If you have any questions just give us a call. We offer no obligation free initial consultations.
Brice Zoecklein, Esq.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this blog/website is for informational purposes only and provides general information about the law but not specific advice. This information should not be used as a substitute for advice from competent legal counsel as laws change and the facts in your specific case need to be analyzed.