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February 18, 2023

Frequently Asked Questions About Probate

As a Lithia, FL probate lawyer can explain, the state of Florida requires all estates to go through the probate. Probate is the legal process of distributing a deceased person’s assets and property according to their will or, if there is no will, according to state law. The process involves verifying the validity of the will, identifying the deceased person’s assets, paying off any debts, and distributing the remaining property to the heirs or beneficiaries. The following are some common questions clients have about the probate process. For more detailed information, contact Morton Law Firm.

  • When a person draws up a will, they name an executor who will oversee the distribution of their estate. Part of the executor’s duties is to file the will with the probate court, which will determine the validity of the will and approve the distribution of assets. The executor is in charge of identifying and gathering the decedent’s assets, paying off debts and any taxes they owed, and then distributing the remaining assets and property according to the instructions in the will.

  • Not all assets go through probate. Assets that are jointly owned, have designated beneficiaries (such as life insurance policies or retirement accounts), or are held in a trust generally do not go through probate. Assets that are solely owned by the deceased person and do not have a designated beneficiary or joint owner will typically go through probate.

  • The length of the probate process can vary depending on the complexity of the estate, the number of creditors and beneficiaries involved, and any disputes that may arise. As long as no one contests the will, the process should be a fairly quick one, however, if there is anyone contesting the validity of the decedent’s will, the process can drag out for a year or longer.

  • Disputes among beneficiaries can delay the probate process and may require court intervention to resolve. It is important to try to resolve any disputes through mediation or other means before involving the court. If a dispute cannot be resolved, the court may appoint a special administrator to manage the estate or hold a hearing to determine how the assets should be distributed.

  • Yes, there are several ways that a Lithia probate lawyer can help your estate avoid or minimize the probate process, including:

    • Establishing a living trust to hold assets and property during your lifetime, which can allow for a smoother transfer of assets after death.
    • Designating beneficiaries for assets that allow for such designations, such as life insurance policies and retirement accounts.
    • Jointly owning property with rights of survivorship, which allows the surviving owner to automatically inherit the property upon the other owner’s death.
    • Gifting assets to heirs during your lifetime, which can reduce the size of your estate and the amount subject to probate.

To learn more about how a Lithia probate lawyer can help your estate address the probate process, contact Morton Law to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

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