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Probate & Estate Administration

When a loved one passes away, his or her estate often goes through a court-managed process called probate or estate administration where the assets of the deceased are managed and distributed.  If your loved-one owned his or her assets through a well drafted and properly funded living trust, it is likely that no court-managed administration is necessary, though the successor trustee needs to administer the distribution of the deceased’s assets.  The length of time needed to complete the probate of an estate depends on the size and complexity of the estate and the local rules and schedule of the probate court.

The offices of Life Law Planning are responsible for assisting a family with the lengthy and complicated process of administering a decedent’s estate. In Florida, when someone who is a property owner dies, even if he does not live in Florida at the time of his or her death, all laws regarding the transition of that property go into effect, this is called “probate”. In some cases, when an individual has prepared for his or her death by setting aside funds and creating detailed wills and placing those wills in an accessible location, the probate can be rather straight forward. Most people, unfortunately, do not do this and the probate period can be lengthy and costly for the family of the deceased.

The Probate Process

Probate administration begins with submitting the Last Will and Testament if one exists. From that point a personal representative, or fiduciary, is appointed who will begin the process of organizing and pulling together the decedents affairs and property to catalog and inventory. He or she will then pay creditors and any fees owed for the estate attorney or fiduciary, as well as, all court costs. When all of this is concluded the estate can then be transferred legally to those beneficiaries and heirs of the estate.

An Ounce Of Prevention Is Worth A Pound Of Cure

This process has been augmented through legislation to make it as quick and painless as possible, however, there will always be hiccups along the way. Wills can be challenged, documentation can be lost, creditors can be confused—there are so many situations which can occur along the way which is why I always suggest having ones affairs in order while you are still relatively young.

Many times in elderly couples, a death will leave behind an individual who is unprepared for the rigors of probate. Sometimes that individual will require care that could possibly be withheld during a lengthy, contested probate. Without sounding like a lecture, I urge everyone to think ahead to that day when you will no longer be there in physical body to assist your loved ones. Exploitation of elderly people is quite common. There are countless individuals out there who will seek to assert an undue influence upon those that grieve or even those elderly still living who are unable to understand their affairs.

Plan Now, So Your Loved Ones Won’t Have To Fight Later.

I am more than happy to discuss those laws pertaining to probate and the probate process. I am also a confident estate attorney who can navigate and guide you in the process of will creation, elder care, business and estate succession planning and other areas of estate law.

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