Winter Park Probate Administration Attorney
With its roots in a Latin word meaning “to prove,” probate is the process where a will is submitted to court and proven to be a valid and correct will. Once admitted to probate, the terms of the will may be put into effect, and gifts, bequests and devises made in the will may be executed. Probate administration also involves paying any debts or taxes owed and doing whatever else is necessary to settle and close the estate.
While some probate cases are relatively simple and straightforward, others can others can involve complicated legal issues and potentially costly delays. In such situations, the assets of the estate may be affected, which can impact all of the beneficiaries. In addition, certain probate disputes can become contentious and can result in rifts between family members.
Sperling Ducker helps personal representatives and families throughout Winter Park and Florida through the probate process, administering the estate efficiently and effectively for the benefit of all concerned. We try to find the most amicable and cost-effective solutions to any issues that may arise to preserve not only the estate assets but the wellbeing of the beneficiaries involved. If you are a personal representative or a beneficiary of a will facing probate, do not hesitate to call our Winter Park probate administration attorneys today for assistance.
Winter Park Probate Administration
A formal probate administration is held in the circuit court of the county where the deceased resided. The process begins by filing with the court within ten days of the death. Upon the filing of a petition to appoint a personal representative, the court will appoint a personal representative as named in the will, or otherwise if one was not named in the will. The judge also issues a court order to determine the date and place of death and to order the probate administration. Letters of Administration are issued to the personal representative, documenting that person’s authority to carry out the tasks necessary to probate the estate.
The personal representative then goes about the necessary tasks of marshaling all the assets of the estate, and then conducting an inventory and appraisal. Notice is given to creditors, who have a period of time within which to bring claims against the estate before the estate’s assets may be distributed according to the terms of the will. The personal representative pays the claims against the estate, or if they are disputed, takes the necessary steps to resolve the disputes, including litigation where applicable. Taxes owed by the estate are handled in the same manner.
Once taxes and debts are settled, the personal representative may begin distributing the estate according to the terms of the will. This may require selling property as well as borrowing, encumbering or abandoning property in accordance with the representative’s fiduciary duties. Businesses may need to be wound up and sold, or provisions made to continue the company in accordance with the business succession planning aspect of the estate plan. Disputes regarding the personal representative or other matters may have to be dealt with through probate litigation in the courts.
Overall, a personal representative has many different responsibilities throughout probate and, if you are a personal representative, you should not hesitate to call Sperling Ducker for assistance today.
How a Probate Lawyer Can Help You
Many personal representatives may wonder whether they should handle probate administration on their own or seek assistance from an experienced probate attorney. While a representative and beneficiaries may have concerns about the cost of an attorney, legal representation can often save the estate money in the long run and be extremely beneficial in several ways.
Probate laws and requirements can be complex. Often, a person drafting a will tends to choose a trusted family member as a personal representative and that family member may have little to no knowledge of the probate process. If mistakes are made during probate, legal disputes may arise with creditors, beneficiaries, potential heirs, and others. A skilled attorney can oversee the entire probate process to ensure all requirements are met, all laws are followed, and that errors and unnecessary issues are avoided whenever possible.
In addition, the personal representative likely has a full-time job, a family, and other important obligations that may limit the amount of time they can dedicate to administering a will. A probate lawyer can step in and assist with the many different tasks required during probate to significantly lessen the burden on the personal representative. This can be especially beneficial if the personal representative does not live in the geographical area of the probate court. By seeking our assistance, you can ensure probate will go as smoothly and efficiently as possible with the least amount of stress for both the personal representative and all beneficiaries involved.
Helping to Resolve Probate Disputes
One of the most important reasons to call a probate attorney is if you believe a legal dispute regarding a will or an estate may exist. Disputes can arise for several reasons, including the following:
- Questioning whether the will is legally valid;
- Questioning whether the deceased person had the required mental capacity to make a will;
- Alleging that another beneficiary exercised undue influence over the deceased person;
- Alleging negligence or fraud regarding the actions of the personal representative in the administration of the will.
Whether you are a beneficiary or a personal representative, you should contact an attorney the moment you believe a dispute may exist.
Experienced Winter Park Probate Administration Attorney
Not all estates must go through a formal probate administration. Florida recognizes a summary probate process for some small estates and even a no-probate process for certain very small estates. The size and makeup of the estate and the amount of assets which had been transferred into trusts and other instruments outside of probate determines which process must be used. In the event a person dies without a will, the estate is administered according to Florida laws on intestate succession. Regardless of the type of probate required and the issues involved, Sperling Ducker is equipped with experienced Winter Park Probate Administration Attorneys to provide advice and assistance every step of the way to ensure an efficient and proper administration.