Probate is the legal process by which a deceased person's assets are distributed to his or her heirs. Probate involves the identification and gathering of a decedent's assets, verification and satisfaction of debts owed by the decedent's Estate and distribution of the remaining assets pursuant to his or her Will.
If there is a valid Will, the estate is considered testate, and a personal representative or executor is named to handle the process. If no such Will exists or if the Will is invalidated through court proceedings, then the estate is considered intestate. In this case, the Court will appoint a personal representative and distribution will be completed in accordance with Florida law. In an intestate estate, Florida law determines who the heirs are that will receive assets from the estate. This is why it is much better to have a Will so that you can designate where your assets get distributed upon your death.
In either event, the decedent's assets must be identified and any debts must be settled. This can be a complicated process especially if the decedent did not put together a well drafted plan prior to his or her death.
An attorney will be necessary to assist in opening the estate, accounting for all assets, valuing the estate, satisfying all debts and tax obligations and distributing what is remaining to the decedent's heirs, either in accordance with his or her Will, if there is one, or Florida's intestacy statute.
At Singer & Associates, we understand that this can be a difficult time to deal with the complexity that the probate process brings. Our firm has considerable experience handling estates of all sizes with real estate, business interests, investments and other assets. We provide personal attention to help personal representatives get through all steps of the process, including counseling the personal representatives as to the fiduciary duties imposed on them by law, filing a petition to name the personal representatives and other papers with the Court, gathering and valuing both assets and debts, providing notice to creditors and other interested parties, paying taxes and outstanding debts, filing for tax identification numbers, preparation of the estate tax return and concluding the estate.