Probate Attorney Jacksonville Fl

PROBATE ATTORNEY JACKSONVILLE FL

Probate Attorney Jacksonville Fl

What is Probate?

If you are looking for the best probate attorney Jacksonville FL has to offer, we’re here to help. Your loved one has passed away. You are grieving. It is an emotional time. The loss of a loved one creates many stressful issues that you need to deal with.  After the funeral, the family realizes that their loved one left behind money and property that need to be distributed to heirs. Perhaps your loved one left behind a Will. Maybe they died without a Will. How does the family go about administering the estate? Does the estate need to be probated?

If your loved one’s estate has to go through probate court, it can be a major burden.  Probate is a complicated and sensitive endeavor, and is typically done during an extremely difficult time. We are compassionate and good listeners.  We can guide you through the legal maze that often can seem confusing and mysterious.  Our knowledge of the requirements involved allow us to help you through the process so you can focus on more important things surrounding your loss.

Legacy Planning Law Group provides the attention to detail that is needed to ensure things go the way they should.  You are grieving.  Do not worry, we can help!  We understand that you have a lot on your plate in the weeks and months after a loved one passes away, so we will handle as much of the probate process for you as possible.  Leave the probate process to us!

What Is Probate?

Probate is the legal process for settling an estate. It involves doing an inventory of the deceased’s assets, paying the deceased’s debts and expenses, and distributing the deceased’s property to the heirs, either according to a Will or state law if the deceased did not have a Will.

When Is Probate Necessary?

Whether an estate is “probated” depends on many different factors, including the type and value of the deceased’s assets and how the assets were owned.  Florida probate law applies to people who lived in Florida when they died.  A probate also must be initiated in Florida if a deceased resident of another state owned real estate in Florida.

What Assets Do Not Need To Be Probated?

Certain types of assets do not need to be probated. These are called non-probate assets.  They include jointly-held property, payable-on-death and transfer-on-death accounts (also called POD and TOD accounts), life insurance, and retirement accounts.

What Does Probating An Estate Involve?

Probate is started by the personal representative (sometimes referred to as the executor).  The personal representative files legal documents with the probate court in the county where the deceased lived when they died. Once appointed by the judge, a personal representative must do a number of things.  He or she must take an inventory of all of the deceased’s property and submit the inventory to the court and to potential heirs. If the deceased died with a Will, the personal representative will ask the court to “admit the Will to probate.”  If there is uncertainty whether a Will is valid, the probate court first will be asked to determine the validity of the Will.  Probate ends when all debts and taxes are paid, the judge approves the proposed asset distribution schedule, and all assets are finally distributed to the heirs.

Probate can be a formal process called a formal administration, or a less formal process called a summary administration. Formal administrations can take many months. A summary administration is usually much shorter. The appropriate type of probate administration depends on a number of factors, most importantly the size of the estate. A formal administration is required if the total value of the probate assets is $75,000 or more. A summary administration is used for smaller estates. Other factors determining the type of administration include the date of the deceased’s death, whether any creditors have asserted a claim, and whether there are disputes among heirs.

In the best of circumstances, probate can be a fairly straightforward process.  In other situations, however, there can be many issues that you need to work through.

How Will The Estate Be Distributed To Heirs?

If a valid Will exists, the personal representative will distribute the deceased’s assets according to the terms of the Will.  If there is no valid Will, then the deceased’s assets will be distributed according to Florida inheritance law.  Claims against the estate must be paid before the heirs can receive their distributions.

Is It Necessary To Use A Lawyer To Probate An Estate?

In most formal probate administrations, a lawyer must be hired to represent the personal representative. In a summary administration, using a lawyer is not required, although it is strongly advised.  Using a lawyer makes sure that mistakes are avoided and deadlines are met.  A lawyer knows how to avoid unnecessary delays.  Also, a lawyer can be very helpful in explaining the process to family members to prevent disagreements.

How Much Does It Cost To Probate An Estate?

The cost of probate depends on the specific circumstances of the deceased’s estate.  Generally, the expenses of probating an estate include the cost of a funeral, burial or cremation services, court fees, attorneys’ and accounting fees, newspaper publication fees, and personal representative fees. All of these expenses are paid from the estate assets before anything is distributed to the heirs.

Does Having A Will Help Avoid Probate?

Usually no. If a deceased died with debts that need to be paid and assets that need to be distributed to heirs, the existence of a Will by itself does not avoid probate.  When an owner of assets dies, the probate judge must decide if the Will is valid.  If there is no valid Will in place, the judge must determine who receives the deceased’s assets.

With Or Without A Will, Your Estate Can End Up In Court

If the deceased’s assets are owned jointly or if they are held in a trust, probate may not be required. However, even in those situations, avoiding probate may not be the wisest decision.  Initiating a probate, even if not necessary to transfer assets to heirs, is a way to cut off potential creditors of the deceased who might later make a claim against the assets.  Opening a probate also makes it easier to establish clear title to the deceased’s real estate.

My Loved One Died With A Living Trust. Is There Anything I Need To Worry About?

If your loved had a living trust, probate may not be necessary.  One of the important purposes of a living trust is to spare the family the hassle and expense of going through probate.  A word of caution though – it is possible that your loved one died owning assets that were never put into their trust.  In fact, this happens a lot.  If that is the case, the assets that are outside of the trust must go through the probate process.

Even if all of the deceased’s assets were transferred into the trust before death, the trust will need to be administered.  Trust administration is the process of administering the trust after death, even if it is only to take an inventory of the trust assets, pay all debts, and make final outright distributions to the trust beneficiaries.

If the terms of the trust call for it to continue after death, the trust will have to be administered on an ongoing basis. The successor trustee is responsible for administering the trust. If you are the successor trustee, you will have a wide range of duties that must be carried out.  For example, you will need to wisely invest trust assets, look out for the best interests of the beneficiaries, make various legal decisions, and so much more.

There will be situations where you will need to consult with an attorney to make sure you are complying with all of the laws and terms of the trust. The lawyers at Legacy Planning Law Group can help!

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We can be reached by dialing (904) 880-5554, emailing info@legacyplanninglawgroup.com or through our Contact page.