Managing Steps In The Probate Process
Taking an estate through probate can be time-consuming, complex and emotional. At The Levins & Warnock Law Group, we put our experience in estate administration to work to provide comprehensive and efficient services for families throughout the Fort Myers area. If you are wondering how probate works, here are the key steps in the probate process.
Starting The Process
Probate gets initiated through the court filing of a petition for administration. The formal administration of an estate is called either:
- Testate: when there is a valid will
- Intestate: probate without a will
The court will approve a personal representative unless the decedent’s will names one.
Research And Due Diligence
Identification of assets and debts includes publishing a notice of administration in a local newspaper. Florida statutes give creditors up to three months to file a claim on the estate with the court. While this is going on, the personal representative goes about the work of completing an inventory of assets, getting appraisals if needed, and researching what final tax documents need to be filed. This step can be especially complicated if the estate has a high net worth.
Some complications are possible during the probate process. If heirs contest the will’s stipulations, it may lead to litigation. Property sales, tax return completion and handling payments to creditors can stretch out the amount of time it takes to settle an estate.
Even if the decedent’s will names a representative, that person can retain legal representation to expedite the steps of probate. This will ensure that all steps get thoroughly followed per Florida law.