Probate and Trust Administration
Probate is a public, court-administered judicial process that is required in Florida when a person dies with a Will only, without a Will, without a properly funded trust, and/or with real property that was not funded in a trust or titled in a manner that would avoid the probate process, or, with personal property that did not have a legally designated beneficiary. The probate process involves collecting a decedent’s assets, notifying creditors, paying liabilities, and distributing the remaining assets to those persons who are entitled to receive a share of the decedent’s estate. Before the legal beneficiaries or heirs of property in probate can take title to such assets, a judge in the probate court in the county where the person died will have to approve the distribution of the decedent’s property if the person died without a Will, or according to the decedent’s Will if the person died with a validly executed Will.
There are two (2) kinds of probate processes in Florida: Formal Administration and Summary Administration. Summary Administration is only possible if the probate estate is valued at less than $75,000.00 (not including the value of a decedent’s “homestead”), or, if the decedent has been deceased for more than two (2) years. The probate process usually takes from six (6) months to one (1) year, but can sometimes take longer depending on several factors, including the accuracy of the decedent’s records and the level of cooperation between the attorney, personal representative and beneficiaries. Several factors determine the attorney fees including the type of probate (Formal or Summary), the time involved, the size of the probate estate and the legal issues involved, and the costs can range from $300.00 to $500.00 including court filing fees, but can sometimes be higher.
Lastly, keep in mind that proper planning can avoid or minimize the probate process. While we can’t take our estates with us, a carefully drafted estate plan can preserve and protect what we own for our own benefit during our lives, and for the benefit of our loved ones after we die. Our specially-tailored estate plans are designed to meet each client’s needs since every family is different. In addition to the peace of mind, other benefits of an estate plan include the opportunity to:
- Choose what, when and to whom your assets will be distributed after you die
- Set-up tailored distribution instructions for loved ones who may need extra care
- Designate preferences for the care of minors and select managers for their assets
- Appoint persons for medical and financial decisions should you become disabled
- Secure greater protection for your real estate and/or business during your lifetime
- Plan for the distribution of your business in the event of your death or disability
- Reduce court costs, legal fees and processes such as probate after your death
- Lesson the likelihood of family rifts with careful estate planning.
With over 18 years’ experience, Attorney Isabel Betancourt-Levey applies her knowledge and conscious experience to create a specially-tailored estate plan to meets each client’s individual needs. She will personally meet with you to listen, present the best estate planning options available for you, and deliver an estate plan that honors your intentions so you can provide for your loved ones following that one certainty in each of our lives. To meet with Attorney Isabel Betancourt-Levey for an initial complimentary consultation call 786.262.5105, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the ‘Contact Our Firm’ section on the right