After saying goodbye to a loved one and honoring their memory, there may be work required in order to administer that person’s estate. It is not uncommon that the person who wishes to serve as executor or personal representative of the estate has not been in that position before. Therefore, it is prudent to consult with an experienced probate attorney who is well-versed in estate laws governing Martin County probate estates.
Many of the guidelines for probating an estate in Palm City are contained in the Florida Statutes and the Florida Probate Rules. These laws are intended, in part, to ensure that the deceased person’s wishes for their assets are fulfilled in compliance with the law.
In accordance with Fl. Stat. §732.901, the custodian of a will must file it with the Martin County clerk within ten days of the death of the decedent. The clerk may ask the filer of the document for the date of death or the last four digits of the deceased’s social security number. After the will is filed, the proposed personal representative may petition the Martin County court to initiate the probate process.
Throughout the probate process, the departed is typically referred to as the decedent. Those who receive gifts from the estate are referred to as heirs or beneficiaries. Regardless whether the decedent had a will that nominated a personal representative, any person wishing to serve as such must apply and be appointed by the Martin County probate court in order to begin administration of the probate estate.
The personal representative has a multitude of fiduciary responsibilities, including the following:
If an estate’s assets are worth less than $75,000, or the decedent has been dead for more than 2 years, an abbreviated probate proceeding known as summary administration may be available. Per Fl. Stat. §735.203, the personal representative must file a petition for summary administration to receive permission from the Martin County court to probate the estate through this quicker method.
Once the personal representative or petitioner has paid valid claims against the estate, if any, the procedures for administering the estate are fairly straightforward. Under Fl. Stat. §735.206, the beneficiaries of an estate in summary administration may be liable for valid claims filed against the estate for a period of up to two years following the decedent’s death.
Formal administration of a probate estate in Palm City can take much longer. Moreover, with formal administration, the personal representative may be tasked with additional fiduciary duties.
As with summary administration, the custodian of the will must file it with the county clerk. The proposed executor or personal representative also must petition the court to begin formal administration.
In formal administration, notices must be sent to interested persons so that they have an opportunity to contest the will. Per Fl. Stat. §733.212, the personal representative should send a notice of administration to the surviving spouse, known beneficiaries, and the trustee, and possibly the trust’s beneficiaries, of any related trust. Also, a notice to creditors must be published in a local newspaper, and a copy of that notice must be sent to all known or reasonably discoverable creditors.
The Palm City probate process is rife with pitfalls for the unwary. If you are the custodian of a will, and the person who wrote the will has died, it would be wise to seek the counsel of a local attorney experienced in probate law.