While not everyone is well-versed in trust and estate law, there are attorneys who are. Opening an estate in Palm City can be done with the help of a knowledgeable attorney. There are nuanced forms and probate proceedings that present complications for people who know little about estate law. That is why working with an attorney is so important.
The first step to opening an estate in Palm City is to determine what form of filing is needed. Most of the time, this would be a formal administration, but there are some situations where an abbreviated form of administration may be used. A big factor in deciding upon the form is determining what assets may need to go through the probate process.
Once a form of administration has been determined, if using formal administration, the initial filing involves a petition that is filed with the probate court. The petition asks the judge to appoint someone as a personal representative of the estate. Until this has happened, no one has legal control or authority to represent the estate.
The main difference between a large estate and a small estate is that if the decedent died with a probate estate valued at less than $75,000, then it is possible to use an abbreviated form of probate known as summary administration. An advantage to summary administration is that the process is typically shorter and less expensive than formal administration. In addition to summary administration, in extremely small estates—typically, a few thousand dollars or less—there is a form of administration that does not require a court order called disposition of personal property without administration.
Florida law requires that a person’s original will be filed with the court in the jurisdiction where they resided within 10 days following death. A copy of the will does not suffice. Only the original version may be filed with the court. Prior to death, it is advisable that a person stores their original will in a safe, secure location that can be accessed when needed.
If the single copy of the document is an original copy, then that version can and should be filed with the court within 10 days following the decedent’s date of death. If the only copy that exists is a photocopy rather than an original, then there are ways to admit a copy of the will to the probate court, but that would require a petition and court order.
Any interested party may petition to open probate but, typically, the petitioner would be the proposed personal representative. If the decedent left a will, then this person would typically be nominated within the will. If the decedent did not leave a will, then Florida law provides for the spouse or others who may have an interest as beneficiaries to determine who the personal representative would be.
A notice to creditors is a notice required by law that is filed in the probate case and published in a newspaper for two consecutive weeks. The notice to creditors is designed to put any known or potential creditors on notice that they have a limited window of time in which to file a claim in the probate case.
The decision of whether to require a bond is in the hands of the judge. Some jurisdictions such as Broward and Miami-Dade tend to require a bond for all personal representatives located out of state. Other factors that may increase the chances of needing a bond include the presence of unknown heirs or potential disputes between beneficiaries. If the decedent died with a will, the will may have waived any bond requirement.
Opening an estate in Palm City may present challenges depending on the value of your estate. Even with that knowledge, there are routes that you could take that may not be so intuitive. To better ensure your estate is protected and administered properly, you need to contact an attorney familiar with trust and estate law in Martin County. Reach out today.