Probate is the legal process through which a decedent’s assets are administered and debts are paid. Florida Statutes Chapters 731 -735 govern the administration of estates within the state of Florida. There are two types of estates; small estates handled through summary administration and formal administration. Summary administration is for estates in which no debt is owed and the assets are valued less than $75,000.00 or the decedent has been dead for over two years. There can be a distribution without administration if the decedent left only personal property which is exempt from creditor claims. Formal administration applies in all other cases.
Summary administration can usually be completed within 30 to 90 days. Formal administration usually takes 4 – 12 months to complete depending upon claims, liquidation of assets, and other factors. The law provides for notice to creditors and bar dates which establish time limitations to file claims. Claims which are not timely filed can be barred from receiving a distribution. All claims must be paid or settled before distributions occur to heirs or beneficiaries.
Distribution in an estate occurs according to the decedent’s Last Will and Testament. If the decedent did not leave a Will, distribution occurs according to Florida’s law regarding intestate succession.
In a formal administration, the Personal Representative (formerly known as an executor or executrix) handles the estate and is entitled to a fee as allowed by statute and approved by the court.
If you are considering preparing a Will you should consider making an appointment with Marianna Probate Attorney Charles Wynn who has helped clients prepare Wills and Trusts in Panama City, Marianna, and throughout Florida for over 33 years. If you have an interest in an estate and need honest legal advice or are in need of filing a probate estate, consider making a confidential appointment with Mr. Wynn who will take the time to explain the probate procedure to you and your family. Charles Wynn is a Probate Lawyer that will be able to give you an opinion on how long the process will take and what the anticipated costs of administration will be.