Probate Frequently Asked Questions

What is probate?

Probate is the process of proving that a deceased loved one's will is valid in a court of law, inventorying their property, paying any and all necessary taxes, and distributing their assets according to their will/state law.

How long does the probate process take?

Depending on the size and complexity of an estate, the probate process can take anywhere from four to six months or possibly longer. It is often a long, tedious process that requires multiple court appearances.

Do all estates have to go through the probate process?

Only small estates without property can qualify for disposition without administration, while other states may qualify for summary administration. Summary administration is a quicker and more affordable version of probate administration and can occur when an estate is $75,000 or less.

What is an executor or administrator?

If a person dies with a valid will, they often elect an executor to administer their estate. An individual is elected an estate administrator when their loved one passed away without having a valid will. The court must select the administrator and issue letters of administration before the elected person can start probate.

What happens if I feel I did not receive what I deserved when my deceased loved one's will was read?

You must file a will contest, which could lead to probate litigation. It is extremely difficult to contest a will, however, so it is imperative you hire our attorney to assist you during your probate litigation case.

If I have a will, do my assets still have to go through the probate process?

Having a will doesn't necessarily mean your property doesn't have to go through probate. The type of assets you own at the time of your passing determines if your family has to undergo your probate. A will tells the court who you want to manage your estate, as well as how your assets should be distributed.

What items don't have to pass through probate?

Items that are jointly owned and items placed in certain types of trusts do not have to go through probate. For example, if you co-own a home with your spouse and your spouse survives you, your home will not pass through the probate process until your spouse passes away.

If I don't have a will upon my death, does the State of Florida receive all my assets?

Unless zero heirs can be located, the State of Florida does not receive your assets if you pass away without a will. Your heirs will be determined based on the laws of intestacy. If you die and have no living relatives who can be located within a specific amount of time, your estate could possibly go to the State.