Probate Process in Florida with Our Coral Gables Attorneys
The probate process is an important time following a person’s death. This is the sole legal procedure whereby a court determines the property rights of all heirs. During this time, a court evaluates the legitimacy of a will, if one exists, and empowers an administrator/curator/personal representative to oversee the estate and its property.
A probate lawyer in Coral Gables could help you to better understand the probate process in Florida. This includes providing guidance about how to initiate the procedure and gathering the documents needed to begin. One of the reasons probate occurs is to supervise the actions of the administrators and ensure that they act only in the best interests of the members of the estate.
Initiating Probate in Florida at Our Coral Gables Office
Although probate has to occur, the court never starts this procedure on its own initiative. In every situation, probate only begins when a party submits a formal petition to the proper branch of the court Florida.
Under Florida Statute §733.202, any adult has the ability to submit these petitions to the court. The petition itself must contain information about the decedent’s death and a copy of their will if one exists. A knowledgeable attorney is prepared to provide assistance immediately upon information about a loved one’s death. This may include drafting a formal petition, locating an authentic copy of a will, and informing all relevant parties about the opening of the probate.
The Authentication of the Will
The first major step in any Florida probate process is the court authentication of a will. Under Florida law, a will is presumptively valid if it contains the signature of the testator as well as those of two witnesses who observed the signing. Notably, any interested party has the opportunity to challenge the authenticity of a will. They may allege that a will was the product of fraud or undue influence. It may also be possible to argue that a testator lacked the mental capacity to properly articulate their wishes at the time of a signing. An attorney could help to argue either for or against the admissibility of a will.
If a probate court invalidates a will and there is no prior version of the document, it applies the state’s intestacy rules. This will see the distribution of estate assets to the decedent’s immediate family members according to the terms of the law. This often results in a distribution that significantly differs from the testator’s intent.
The Appointment of a Personal Representative
The final portion of the Florida probate process involves the distribution of estate assets in which you speak to one of our attorneys in our Coral Gables office. Only a court-appointed estate executor/personal representative/curator has the legal authority to perform these steps. Usually, a will nominates a personal representative, but a court may also appoint a person or organization to serve in this role.
The personal representative can take immediate control over all estate assets and must then pay all debtors or negotiate them down. The remainder of the estate goes to the parties named in the will or who become heirs through the application of the intestacy rules. The court watches every step that a personal representative takes, and an attorney could help to raise questions concerning the proper application of these powers.
Call Our Coral Gables Attorneys About the Probate Process in Florida Today
It is essential that all named heirs in wills, nominated estate personal representatives and family members understand what to expect during the probate process in Florida. Probate only begins when a party asks a court to initiate proceedings. Any person can file a formal petition but finding a knowledgeable probate attorney in Coral Gables will help the process move more efficiently.
Contact a lawyer to learn more about this legal procedure toady.