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In the event of the death of a loved one who has left behind assets, probate may be necessary. Probate provides court oversight to ensure that a decedent's assets are distributed to the proper heirs (if the loved one died without a will) or beneficiaries (if the loved one died with a will) in an orderly process, after all claims against the decedent's estate have been taken care of. When someone dies with a will, that person has died testate and the will controls the disposition of the assets left at death. If a person dies without a will, that person has died intestate and the distribution of the assets is provided by law. Whether you are the nominated personal representative, family member, or beneficiary, you will likely need representation. Allen Law, P.A. represents clients in the following probate matters:
Summary administration may be used when a decedent's assets, excluding exempt property, are equal to $75,000 or less or it has been more than two years since the decedent’s death. Summary administration is less expensive and not as time consuming as formal administration. Further, summary administration does not require a personal representative - any interested person may petition the court for summary administration. Although representation is not required for summary administration, it is strongly recommended to help the petitioner avoid the pitfalls and liabilities that can occur from choosing to use summary administration. Further, representation by an attorney can help speed up the process and reduce the frustration by undertaking the process by one's self.
Formal administration is more complex, and thus, a lengthier process than summary administration. Formal administration is necessary when a decedent's assets exceed $75,000 and requires that a personal representative (sometimes known as an executor) be appointed. The personal representative acts similar to a trustee of the estate during its administration. This is because the personal representative has the same fiduciary duties towards the estate as a trustee has in administration of a trust. Florida statutes provide certain preferences and restrictions on who can act as personal representative. Nonetheless, Florida courts require that the personal representative is represented by an attorney.
Ancillary administration is used when a non-resident dies leaving assets in the State of Florida. Ancillary administration is similar to formal administration and requires a personal representative.
Elective share is the process in which a surviving spouse may choose to take against the will of a deceased spouse because the deceased spouse has left less than 30% of his or her estate (this includes probate and some non-probate assets) to the surviving spouse. The elective share is in addition to family allowance, the homestead property, and any exempt property that the surviving spouse is entitled to. The surviving spouse has a limited time in which to make an election to take his or her elective share. Valuation of the elective estate, which determines the amount of the elective share the surviving spouse is entitled to, is complicated and it is highly recommended that the surviving spouse seek an attorney who is experienced with elective share and the elective estate.
Unfortunately, the elderly and those with special needs are often taken advantage of and may be the victims of undue influence. This sometimes results in new wills being executed that strongly favor the person who has exerted undue influence over the person. If your loved one has executed a will that you strongly believe is the product of undue influence, you may want to consider contesting the will. Call Allen Law, P.A. today for a free* consultation. We can help you determine whether the circumstances under which your loved one’s will was the result of undue influence and should be contested.
Are you a beneficiary of a will, or are you an heir that is concerned about the probate of a loved one's assets? Allen Law, P.A. can represent beneficiaries and heirs to protect their interests, and ensure that the personal representative is maximizing and not wasting estate assets.