probate law

When your loved one passes in Florida, chances are good that you will need to open a probate proceeding to (at least) wrap up the last affairs of your loved one. Even if they placed the vast majority of their assets into a trust, they likely also created a pour-over will that will need to be probated so that any remaining transfers of assets can be completed.

While most everyone who dies will have their estates touched in some way by the probate process, what exactly that looks like and how long it takes can vary from person to person based on the size of the estate the deceased has remaining after their death.

Probate Can Take Months to Complete

Suppose your loved one recently passed away and had a will of some type that was valid and effective at the time of their death. A probate case would be opened and the will admitted into probate. From there, the next steps and the length the process will take depends on how large of an estate the decedent had:

Estates Under $75,000 

If the decedent did not have any debt and the value of their estate is less than $75,000, you may be able to apply for simplified or summary administration. This is a faster probate process with fewer steps that is designed to wrap up the decedent’s affairs and close the probate case without undue delay. This option is not available if there is any creditor who has a claim against the decedent’s estate, such as a hospital or medical provider.

The summary administration process can take a matter of a few weeks to complete once the petition is filed.

Underwater Estates

If the estate is entirely underwater, that is, the decedent died owing more in debts that the remaining assets can cover, you can file a petition for disposition without administration. This bypasses the probate process entirely since there are no assets to distribute to heirs or beneficiaries. The document requesting disposition without administration would be the only document filed with the probate court.

Formal Probate Administration

All other estates must pass through the formal probate process in Florida. There are clearly defined steps that must be completed along the way, and the time it takes for each step to get done depends on the size of the estate, the number of heirs and beneficiaries, and how complex the decedent’s final wishes are.

The formal probate process can take at least six months to complete, although many estates will take longer than this.

What Can a Florida Estate Planning Attorney Do to Help Me?

The clearer your directives are and the more organized your estate, the smoother the probate process will be. Centonzio Law helps by preparing wills, trusts, advance care directives, and other estate planning documents so that the court and your loved ones know exactly how you want your affairs handled after your death.

Call (727) 900-7290 to talk with Centonzio Law, or make contact with us online, and let our knowledgeable team discuss with you what your estate plan can provide for your loved ones.