loved ones will

When it comes time to settle your loved one’s estate, you or someone else will open a probate proceeding. If your loved one died testate, that is, having created a will, the original will should be produced and delivered to the probate court. Otherwise, if your loved one died intestate their estate will be handled according to the laws of the state where probate is occurring.

If there is a will, it must be produced to the court in short order. Florida law only gives you ten days from the date you become aware of your loved one’s death to present your loved one’s will to the court. But what happens if you cannot meet this deadline?

When You Cannot Find Your Loved One’s Will

Suppose your loved one’s death was sudden and they lived a disorganized life. They may not have told you that they created a will, or may have lost the will in their home. Even if they told you where to look for the will before they passed, this may have been incorrect. In short, it is easy to conceive of a situation where you are not able to find your loved one’s will and present it to the court within the ten-day period provided for in the statutes.

If a will is never located, the court can take it to mean that your loved one may have had a will but decided before their death to revoke it and not to create another one in its place. In this situation, your loved one will be treated as having died intestate.

You Find the Will After Probate Has Been Opened or Closed

If you discover your loved one’s will after a probate action has already commenced, the matter should be brought up right away with an experienced wills and trusts lawyer. In many cases, if the probate case is still open and ongoing, the late appearance of a will would be permitted and the estate administrator would be obligated to proceed insofar as possible with fulfilling the terms of the will.

The path forward is a little more challenging if your deceased loved one’s probate case has closed with all debts being paid and assets distributed. You could still file a motion to reopen the probate case and introduce the newly discovered will, but the court may choose not to do so unless there is a compelling reason to do so such as an asset that the will identifies that was previously unknown.

Get Professional and Knowledgeable Assistance from Centonzio Law

If you have questions about the probate process, or if you recently discovered your loved one’s will after probate has started, do not try to forge ahead alone. There are unique challenges you face that could impact your legal rights. 

Reach out and speak to us at Centonzio Law instead. We can look over your situation and advise you of your options, helping you decide what is the best course of action under your circumstances. Connect with Centonzio Law online or by calling (727) 900-7290.