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When a loved one passes away, their family is often responsible for their estate. However, the probate process can be lengthy and time-consuming. It involves reviewing documents and figuring out what someone meant with no means of asking them directly.

You shouldn’t have to deal with this situation alone while you grieve the loss of a loved one. You should contact a probate attorney in Largo, Florida, who can guide you through the process.

Whether you are planning for when your family will need to probate your estate, or you need to determine what to do with a deceased loved one’s property, Centonzio Law can help. Call us today at 727-900-7290 or use our online contact form to reach out.

The Benefit of Having a Probate Lawyer

In almost all probate cases in Florida, an attorney is required to administer the estate. The lawmakers in Florida recognize that probate lawyers are helpful in many ways, and our past clients agree.

A probate lawyer can help you draft estate planning documents and explain them when someone passes away. A full-service probate law firm like Centonzio Law will be able to handle all your needs without you having to seek help elsewhere. We can review all the information about the estate and develop a plan of action to handle the probate process properly and efficiently.

Speed Up the Process

Probate is a legal process that can take a lot of time and attention to detail. There are numerous documents involved, and the need to be:

  • Written appropriately
  • Meet Missouri legal requirements
  • Are filed according to any deadlines

If you miss a deadline, your probate process may be delayed or even terminated.

Our legal team at Centonzio Law knows Florida probate law and has a streamlined process to prepare legal documents and file with the court. We will make sure you meet all the necessary deadlines and comply with Florida’s probate process so that your case is not delayed or dismissed.

Help with Complex Legal Documents

According to the law, the probate process involves many legal documents that must be read carefully and complied with to distribute assets to beneficiaries. A Largo estate planning lawyer at Centonzio Law can review your documents and help you understand them. We will explain your options and what your next steps should be.

Distribute Assets Appropriately

Distribution of assets must occur according to the instructions in the legal documents drafted by the person who passed away. Those wills, trusts, and other legal documents can be complex. Additionally, sometimes there are assets not included in estate planning documents that must be distributed from the estate.

A probate lawyer can review the entire estate and help you ensure things are carried out according to your loved one’s wishes and Florida law.

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Our Probate Legal Services

We offer an array of services, from estate planning to probating a decedent’s estate. We can handle all the legal issues for you while you focus on mourning the death of your loved one. We will keep you updated at every step of the process so you never feel left out.

Transfer Assets to Appropriate Beneficiaries

The transfer of property through wills and trusts can be confusing, which may cause concern. Centonzio Law is skilled at interpreting estate planning documents because we often help people draft them.

We know what they should include and understand the language and legal terminology that is commonly used. When you come to us, we will review all relevant documents and ensure the beneficiaries get what they were promised and are entitled to receive.

Prepare for Probate Court

Probate courts require the filing of many Probate Forms throughout the probate process. If you are not familiar with probating an estate, this will be difficult without assistance. Our experienced probate attorneys will help you draft all necessary legal documents for the probate court.

Common Probate Documents

Some of the common probate documents required by Florida law include the following:

Obtain Appraisals for Property

In many cases, property must be appraised to determine value, established for tax and distribution purposes. It can also determine if the estate is a “small estate” and qualifies for the simplified probate process.

It’s crucial to find an appraiser familiar with the property being valued and the location in which the property exists. Centonzio Law can help you select an appraiser and make sure they are appropriate for your probate needs. We can also assist with determining the value of an estate without the use of an appraiser.

Identify and Secure Assets

A vital part of the probate process is identifying all the estate’s assets and listing them for the court. People are not always forward about where their assets are held. When your loved one dies, they may have assets in many places that are unknown to others. We can help search for and identify unknown assets.

Examine All Legal Documents

There are many legal documents to scrutinize after your loved one passes away. Centonzio Law can examine all the relevant legal documents to help you understand what needs to be done.

We know that sometimes estate planning documents are old or were not drafted with proper legal procedures. We can help you identify any problems with legal documents and determine how to best proceed under the circumstances.

Overview of Probate in Largo, Florida

The probate process in Florida can be complex. In addition to steps taken by the estate’s personal representative, someone must appear in court at hearings and in legal conferences. It’s always best to seek legal representation for these matters. Your Largo probate attorney can help you comply with all legal requirements.

Taking Inventory of Assets

You must take a complete inventory of all assets of the estate. This is generally the responsibility of the estate’s personal representative. It’s important not to miss anything because the personal representative could be held accountable for mistakes or omissions in the inventory.

Although there is not a specific form to take inventory of assets during probate, each local court will have a preference regarding how these things should be submitted. Your probate attorney can help you complete the necessary legal documents and file them with the court.

Notifying Creditors

The personal representative must use due diligence to notify creditors that the deceased person has passed away. This allows them to file a claim against the estate. Creditors have three months to file a claim with the clerk of courts from the date a Notice to Creditors is published. We take care of drafting and publishing the Notice to Creditors as part of our full-service probate representation.

Paying All Claims and Expenses Against the Estate

Once all claims have been filed with the clerk of courts, the personal representative has an opportunity to challenge those claims. The court will decide if a claim was filed correctly or if it is invalid. Legitimate debts can include proper creditor claims, taxes, and other expenses. Once the court decides what is fair, the personal representative must ensure the estate pays them.

Determining the Remaining Assets in Estate After Payments

The decedent’s surviving family and anyone else in the will are entitled to the estate’s remaining assets after all claims have been paid. It’s important not to leave out any assets or any people who may benefit from the estate. If anything is left out, it could cause a problem with challenges down the road and drag out the probate process.

It’s best to work with a lawyer who understands how the estate documents were written and can interpret them.

Creating Final Account of Claims and Closing the Probate Process

Upon closing the estate, the personal representative must create a final accounting of the claims and assets. All assets should be distributed at that point. The court will review the estate’s outcome and approve it or make additional instructions to the personal representative for further action.

When Can You Avoid Probate in Florida?

While the Florida probate process provides a structure for transferring property and other assets, it can be costly and time-consuming. There are ways to use state laws to get around probate and benefit everyone.

Create a Living Trust

A living trust is a financial relationship created by a trust agreement. It involves the trustor or settlor (owner of the property or assets) transferring ownership responsibilities of an asset, such as real estate, bank accounts, motor vehicles, or other valuables, to a trustee.

Upon the trustor’s death, the responsibility to administer that trust goes directly to the successor trustee, and that trustee can distribute assets to beneficiaries.

Joint Ownership

Two or more people can own property jointly with the “right of survivorship.” That means, when one person dies, their property rights are split among the remaining owners.

Probate is not necessary when the property is owned jointly with rights of survivorship because the deceased person’s interest in the property is distributed to the surviving joint owner(s) by function of law.

Simplified Probate Procedures

Florida state laws allow “small estates” valued at $75,000 or less to qualify for a simplified probate process known as a summary administration. This can speed up the probate process and eliminate some of the steps. However, all debts must still be paid, and inheritors should be notified that the estate is going through probate.