Probate court has a duty under Florida law to oversee the proper administration of an estate for a person who has passed away. It is possible for you to help retain control over this process and ensure that your assets go exactly where you would like them to go after your death. It is also important for named heirs and potential heirs to understand their rights under probate law.
A Coral Way probate lawyer can help both an executor to an estate and an interested party who wishes to challenge a last will and testament, if one exists. A trustworthy attorney can explain the probate process, help draft wills that will be deemed valid, and work with beneficiaries to protect their rights during probate.
What is Probate and How Does it Work?
Probate is a natural legal process that occurs whenever a person dies. The role of the probate court is to determine whether a person died with a valid will, to oversee the administration of that will, and to hear disputes concerning a decedent’s estate.
Probate begins when an authorized party petitions the court to open a proceeding. According to Florida Statute § 733.202, any interested party has the ability to file a petition with the court. An interested party is one who is named in the will as an heir, or a party who would stand to inherit assets if the will did not exist or was deemed invalid. Once the court receives the petition, it will act to authenticate the will, appoint an estate executor, and ensure that the executor performs their duties in accordance with the law.
Formal probate administration can instead be conducted as summary administration if the person has been deceased for over two years or if the total value of their estate is estimated to be $75,000 or less. A Coral Way probate attorney can provide insight into how an executor or beneficiary can be involved in the functions of probate.
Common Legal Issues That May Arise During Probate
In most situations, the probate process moves forward with little controversy. However, given the stakes, it is crucial that it is done correctly.
One common dispute concerning the probate process involves the legitimacy of a will. The probate court will presume that a will containing the proper signatures is legitimate. However, any interested party may allege that a will is invalid due to fraud, duress, or lack of testamentary capacity. In these situations, a probate lawyer in Coral Way can make legal arguments as to whether the will should be considered valid or not.
Another common argument that can come up during probate is about the actions of the executor of the estate. Executors have a legal duty to pay the estate’s debts, distribute the remaining property according to the terms of the will, and act in the estate’s best interests. An executor who fails in this obligation may face censure from the court, as well as be civilly liable to the members of the estate. An attorney can assist executors to perform their roles or, alternatively, represent the interests of heirs who believe that an executor has taken improper action.
Contact a Coral Way Probate Attorney Today
It is essential to be prepared when the time comes to distribute an estate. Whether it is delivering a will to the court, contesting the legitimacy of testamentary documents, or ensuring that executors of estates perform their duties in accordance with the law, a Coral Way probate lawyer helps you through this complicated process. The team at The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm is committed to protecting your legal rights as an executor or a beneficiary. Give our law firm a call today for a free consultation.