While courts and the law place great emphasis on the rights of people to create wills and other testamentary documents, the law also has a process whereby the legality and authenticity of these documents are subject to scrutiny. This concept describes the process called estate administration. Probate courts have the jurisdiction to undertake three varying levels of estate administration in Stuart to ensure the legal distribution of debts and assets.
A Stuart attorney can provide insight into the estate process. A well-versed estate planning attorney can help testators craft documents that limit the complexity of these processes as well as look out for the interests of beneficiaries during administration.
Probate courts in Stuart have broad powers to oversee the administration of estates. However, depending on the value of the estate and how long it has been since the testator passed away, some estates may avoid formal administration. According to Florida Statute §735.301, no formal administration is required in situations where the estate contains nothing but personal property whose value does not exceed the debts owed for funeral expenses.
A person’s estate may be subject to summary administration when the value of the estate is less than $75,000, or the decedent has been dead for more than two years under Florida Statute §735.201(2). Summary administration is a shortened version of formal administration that allows fast and efficient distribution of property to creditors and beneficiaries. However, any interested party may ask the court to perform a formal administration upon petition.
Finally, all other estates that do not meet the requirements, as stated above, must undergo formal administration. Under formal administration, a probate court must name a personal representative to deal with any legal issues that affect the estate. This representative has a legal duty to distribute the property as required and to deal with any claims made by creditors. A Stuart lawyer can provide more information about the various types of estate administration.
Most estates in Florida undergo formal administration. Therefore, it is essential to understand how this process works. Formal administration starts with a petition for administration. According to Florida Statute §733.202, any interested party may file the petition. The decedent’s will should be deposited with the Clerk’s office as soon as possible after the death, and Florida Statute §732.901 requires custodians of wills to deposit the document no more than ten days after learning of the death.
Once the court receives a request for formal administration, they will take steps to name a personal representative. This is the person responsible for overseeing the distribution of property and protecting the legal rights of the estate. While a Stuart will can nominate this person, only the court can affirm the nomination.
This representative then must provide notice to all possible beneficiaries and creditors that administration is moving forward. Additionally, this representative must:
Estate administration typically takes 6-12 months if there are no major legal issues. However, if a party files an objection to a will or contests the distribution of property, formal administration can take years to resolve. Likewise, more complex estates containing larger numbers and values of assets usually take longer to administer. A Stuart lawyer can help parties protect their rights and fulfill their obligations under estate administration laws.
Probate administration in Florida is governed by the rules of the Florida Probate Code and the Florida Probate Rules. These laws and rules exist to protect the wishes of the deceased, allow valid creditors to be paid, and ensure that beneficiaries receive the property to which they are entitled. A personal representative has a responsibility and duty to follow the law in administering an estate.
A Stuart attorney can help nominated personal representatives to fulfill their obligations under the law. They could also help beneficiaries protect their property rights and even to contest the legality of wills or trusts. Call today to learn more.