When family members lose a loved one, they naturally may have a hard time coping with the death from an emotional standpoint. However, dealing with the legal aspects of their loved one's passing can also be complicated. Here is a look at what the probate administration process involves in Florida and a timeline for completing it.
The court-supervised probate process involves administering and settling a deceased individual's estate. When an individual dies, he or she passes away either testate -- meaning with a will -- or intestate, meaning without a will. If the person passes away with a will, his or her property will go to the particular beneficiaries that he or she named in the will. Meanwhile, if he or she passes with no will, Florida's laws on intestate succession will dictate what happens to his or her property.
In addition, in their wills, people usually name specific individuals to serve as executors -- those responsible for handling their affairs in probate court. If they do not name executors in their wills, or if they die intestate, then the probate court must appoint personal representatives to fill this role. The process of probate starts when executors present wills for probate in court, at which point the executor marshals the assets of the deceased individual. Afterward, their estates pay any outstanding taxes, debts and claims. Finally, the remaining property goes to the proper heirs after an accounting is filed with and approved by the court.
The Florida probate administration process often takes about 24 months to complete. However, this process might take longer in situations involving lawsuits or contested issues. Either way, an attorney can provide guidance to those involved in this often complex undertaking so that they can navigate the proceedings with confidence..