If you have had the recent loss of a loved one, you may wonder what to expect next in regard to his or her estate. In most cases, the estate will need to go through probate. According to the Florida Courts, probate is a legal process by which the court closes an estate through transferring assets to the legal heirs.
Having an estate plan will make probate easier because it will state the wishes of the deceased and the court will follow those wishes. Without a will, the court will have to make decisions based on succession laws as to who receives the assets from the estate. If the person had an estate plan, then he or she probably named an executor. The executor will also begin probate by filing the estate plan with the court.
The probate process will also handle any debts. The executor will manage the estate, including paying debts as the court orders. If you are the executor, you should not pay debts until the court tells you to because there is a specific order in which you must pay them.
The probate process will only cover assets that are legally probate assets. This might exclude some of the estate. Joint accounts or accounts with beneficiaries will automatically transfer, and the court will not handle them.
Closing the estate
Once the court has overseen the disbursement of all assets and settlement of all debts, it will close the estate. At that time, everything should be taken care of and all assets should be with the new lawful owner.