What Is Probate?

You have probably heard of probate. In fact, you may have read about celebrity estates gone bad or tips for avoiding probate altogether. Still, it is a good idea to understand exactly what it entails. Someday, you may be involved in probate for a loved one. Your loved ones may be involved in probating your estate also.

Probate Defined

Florida law defines probate of Will to mean “all steps necessary to establish the validity of a Will and to admit a Will to probate.

So, what is probate, then?

It is the process whereby a Will is declared to be the last wishes of a deceased person. However, when someone dies without a Will, their estate still must go through probate. Most estates are required to be administered through a probate proceeding.

During the probate process, a decedent’s assets and debts are gathered by a personal representative or administrator. Then, any valid claims against the estate are paid, if possible, and remaining property distributed to heirs. There are exceptions to this process whereby spouses or children may elect shares of the estate based on state law. But, generally, the personal representative of the estate deals with assets, debts, and distributions.

Typical Probate Timeline

Every probate case is a little different. However, these are just a few of the deadlines that must be met.

  • 10 days: The Will must be deposited with the clerk of court within 10 days after learning the testator has died.
  • 20 days: Objections to the Will must be filed 20 days from service of notice or 3 months from service of notice of administration.
  • 3 months: Creditors must file claims within three months after the notice to creditors is published. Creditor claims are barred if the creditor has not filed a claim within two years after the decedent’s death.
  • 6 months: Interested parties have six months to file an election to take elective share.

What happens during the administration determines when the estate administration terminates.  For example, if disputes arise over the Will or heirs are hard to find, finalizing the estate may take longer than average. Some estates are finished in a few months, while others may take years.

Be Informed

Sometimes, the easiest way to settle an estate is to avoid probate. Talk to an attorney about beneficiary designations, trusts, and titling property. It’s possible to transfer property to your heirs without having them set foot in a courtroom.

As a Florida attorney board certified in Wills, Trusts & Estates, Attorney John Mangan offers effective estate planning to his clients. To schedule an appointment, call us at 772-324-9050 or fill out our Contact Form. Our office is conveniently located in Palm City, Florida.

Written by John Mangan, Esq.

John Mangan, Esq.

I’m an attorney in Palm City, FL, and I serve clients throughout Martin County, including Stuart, Palm City, Hobe Sound, and Indiantown, as well as those in St. Lucie County, the Treasure Coast, Palm Beach County, and other parts of Florida. The Law Offices of John Mangan, P.A., is an innovative firm providing estate planning services to clients in Florida. We focus primarily on wills, trusts, asset protection, guardianship, and probate administration.