In Florida, every estate must pass through probate. Familiarizing yourself with what the process involves will help you plan ahead strategically.
The first step is to make a petition for probate with the appropriate court. If there is a will, the probate court rules on its validity and determines whether to accept it. If there is not a valid will, a court determines how to distribute an estate in accordance with Florida law.
Send notice to creditors
Paying creditors is one of the main reasons that Florida law requires people to go through probate. There must be a formal notice to creditors so that they have the opportunity to make claims against an estate. Closely following notice requirements can avoid unnecessary delay.
Identify an executor and perform an accounting
Before distributing an estate, a full inventory of an estate’s assets and debts must take place. The executor of an estate will perform the accounting.
If a person has not appointed an executor, someone may volunteer to serve in the role. It is generally advantageous if the executor of an estate is someone who the beneficiaries of an estate can communicate well with and consider to be trustworthy.
Pay taxes, creditors and beneficiaries
After an accounting is complete, an estate’s executor will pay estate taxes and answer any claims for payment that creditors have filed. Next, the beneficiaries may receive their shares of the estate.
Good planning can take a lot of the uncertainty out of probate. Staying organized and exercising strong attention to detail can help to complete the process as quickly as possible.