When someone dies, their heirs and family members do not get immediate access to all the deceased person’s assets. Any assets the deceased person held solely in their name must go through probate. When the property exceeds $75,000 in value, the law requires formal probate administration. The court supervises this process, and it takes several months to complete, at a minimum.
Contact a skilled probate attorney to learn about what happens during formal probate administration in South Miami. A legal professional can explain the procedures, help your family set reasonable expectations, and provide assistance throughout.
When Is Formal Administration Necessary?
According to Florida probate law, an estate must go through formal administration if the decedent died less than two years ago, and the estate is worth at least $75,000. Summary administration is available if the estate is worth less than that amount, or the decedent has been dead for more than two years.
Assets the decedent held solely in their name count toward the estate’s value. The family home usually does not count toward the estate value and passes directly to a spouse or children (if any), even if it was held in the decedent’s name only. Jointly held assets, trusts, and any assets with named beneficiaries are not part of a decedent’s estate.
Determining whether an estate meets the threshold for formal probate administration can be challenging. A South Miami attorney can help family members establish a preliminary value for the estate to assess whether they must use the formal process.
Opening an Estate Through Formal Administration
An attorney can prepare the petition that the probate court requires to open the estate. The Judge reviews the petition to ensure that formal probate administration is necessary and names a personal representative to manage the estate.
If the deceased person named an executor in their will, that person is the personal representative. If the named executor cannot serve or the decedent had no will, the Judge appoints a personal representative, which could be a family member or another responsible person. The Judge issues Letters of Administration giving the personal representative legal rights to access the decedent’s bank accounts and other property.
Duties of the Personal Representative
Managing an estate can be a difficult task, particularly if the decedent had assets that must be sold, such as businesses or real estate. A South Miami formal probate administration attorney can assist the personal representative in carrying out their duties in accordance with the law.
Pay Decedent’s Debts
The personal representative must gather the decedent’s property and collect any debts owed to them. Florida Statute § 733.2121 requires the personal representative to notify creditors that the estate is open by publication in a local newspaper. The decedent’s creditors have 90 days from the date of publication to make a claim against the estate.
The personal representative pays the creditors out of funds in the estate or sells the decedent’s property to raise the funds. The personal representative must file the decedent’s tax returns for the year of their death and ensure the estate files its tax returns.
When all known creditors have been paid, the personal representative must distribute the remaining assets to the decedent’s heirs according to the will. If there is no will, the law requires a surviving spouse to receive at least one-half of the estate. If the surviving spouse did not share children with the deceased person, the spouse receives the entire estate.
When the heirs have all received their share, the personal representative brings a petition to close the estate. In some cases, a probate Judge might require a formal accounting before closing the estate, which a South Miami lawyer can help arrange. Once the Judge is satisfied, the court issues a Notice of Discharge, which closes the estate.
Get Help With Formal Probate Administration in South Miami Today
Managing probate can be an exhausting task. When you have questions or need assistance, turn to The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm. We can support you throughout formal probate administration in South Miami. Schedule a free consultation today.