Guiding Clients Through the Florida Probate Process
The death of a loved one is often a stressful emotional event that brings pain and stress to everyone involved. It can also raise some complicated legal issues, especially if the person dies without a will or other estate plan.
The Florida probate lawyers at Young, Berman, Karpf & Gonzalez, P.A.have decades of experience guiding clients through the legal process of settling an estate after a loved one dies. Estate settlement includes handling all aspects of probate, in which a judge reviews a will and ensures that it is carried out after hearing any potential legal challenges.
We are a full-service law firm and our attorneys help clients in all stages of the estate planning process, from drafting and updating a will and creating a living trust to navigating probate court. Our attorneys take the time to understand the unique needs of each client and to craft a legal strategy designed to accomplish their specific goals.
Florida Probate Basics
Probate is a legal process to gather a deceased person’s assets, identify and pay any debts and distribute the remaining property. That process is made much easier when the person has a will, clearly stating how he or she wants the property divided.
The process begins when a personal representative - often designated in the will - files a probate petition in a local court. The personal representative plays a vital role, mainly standing in for the deceased person. The representative is tasked with administering the estate responsibly and in accordance with the deceased person’s wishes, as directed by a judge.
The probate judge will then allow any creditors to file claims on the estate and direct the personal representative to pay any valid claims. In Florida, state law gives creditors as much as two years to file claims on an estate, but the waiting period can often be decreased to 90 days.
The judge also hears any legal challenges to the will during this time. There are several bases on which a person can challenge a will, including by alleging that it was forged or secured as a result of threats, duress or mental incapacity.
The probate process is complicated in cases in which a person dies without a will. In those situations, the person’s assets will be distributed to their heirs according to priorities set by state law. A surviving spouse is first in line, followed by the deceased person’s children, grandchildren and parents.
Speak with a Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton and Palm Beach Probate Lawyer
If you or a loved one is thinking about drafting or updating a will or other estate plan, the Florida probate lawyers at Young, Berman, Karpf & Gonzalez, P.A can help. We also represent clients and estates throughout the probate process.