Understanding Probate in Florida
The probate process is a complex and often misunderstood aspect of the legal world, causing many people to question whether or not they need to hire a probate lawyer in Florida. Probate is the official way that an estate is settled under the supervision of the court. A person, usually the surviving spouse or an adult child, is appointed by the court if there is no will, or nominated by the deceased person's will. Once appointed, this person, called an executor or personal representative, has the legal authority to gather and value the assets owned by the estate, to pay bills and taxes, and, ultimately, to distribute the assets to the heirs or beneficiaries.
Stokes McMillan Antúnez Martinez-Lejarza P.A. is a full-service Florida trusts and estates law firm providing services including, but not limited to, probate, estate planning, trust & estate administration, and trust and estate litigation. If you have any questions or wish to hire our firm, please contact us.
Probate Requirements in Florida
According to Florida probate laws, the involvement of a probate attorney becomes mandatory when probate is necessary regardless of whether there's a valid will. This applies mostly when people own real estate and other significant assets. However, there are alternatives to probate in Florida that some estates may qualify for such as summary administrations for smaller estates or those where the decedent has been dead for more than two years.
Florida Attorney Fees in Probate Cases
The attorney fees in probate cases can vary widely depending on several factors including estate size, complexity and the presence of any contests or disputes among heirs.
Estate Lawyer vs. Estate Planning Attorney
Despite their often being used interchangeably, there are subtle differences between an estate lawyer and an estate planning attorney. An estate lawyer focuses on assisting personal representatives for navigating through entire probate process from beginning to end while an estate planning attorney helps individuals create plans for managing their estates during their lifetime and at death through trust planning, powers of attorney and healthcare documents.
Choosing The Right Probate Lawyer In Florida
Selecting a probate lawyer that’s right for you comes down to several key factors:
Knowledge and Experience: Ensure your probate lawyer demonstrates a robust knowledge of Florida probate law, and has considerable experience handling similar cases.
Reputation: A strong reputation, reinforced by positive client testimonials and peer recognition can speak volumes about an attorney's credibility and effectiveness.
Accessibility: Your attorney should be available to answer questions or address concerns promptly.
Transparency: A probate attorney should provide clear, up-front information about their fees and process.
What Type Of Lawyer Is Best For Wills?
When it comes to planning your will, you should consider seeking out a lawyer who has knowledge in estate planning. These legal professionals possess the necessary skillset to ensure that your will is drafted in compliance with Florida law, minimizing the potential for legal complications or disputes down the line.
How Probate Lawyers Help Executors & Beneficiaries
Probate lawyers play a crucial role in guiding executors and beneficiaries through the process of probate:
Offer advice on legal duties and responsibilities
Assistance with inventorying estate assets
Guidance on how to handle possible claims against the estate
Ensure fair and legal distribution of assets
Clarification of rights and entitlements under the will
Representation in contests or disputes over the will
Assistance in legally receiving their inheritance
1. Do I need a probate lawyer for a small estate in Florida?
Even if an estate is small, complexities can arise that increase the risk of mistakes or delays if tried to navigate through these processes without legal guidance.
2. How long does probate take in Florida?
The duration of probate varies depending on several factors including the complexity of the estate, but it often takes between six months to a year.
3. Can an estate be closed without a probate attorney in Florida?
No, Florida state law typically requires the assistance of a probate attorney to navigate and close out the probate process.
4. What happens if you don’t probate a will in Florida?
Not going through probate when it's necessary could have significant legal implications. It could lead to disputes amongst beneficiaries, and potential legal action.
5. Does hiring a probate lawyer guarantee a favorable outcome?
While hiring a probate lawyer doesn't guarantee a specific outcome, it does significantly increase the chances of a smoother and legally sound probate process.
Choosing the Right Probate Attorney in Florida
Stokes McMillan Antúnez Martinez-Lejarza P.A. is a full-service Florida trusts and estates law firm providing services including, but not limited to, probate, estate planning, trust and estate administration, and trust and estate litigation. If you have any questions or wish to hire our firm, please contact us.
This article was partly generated by the use of artificial intelligence or AI, and is provided as general information for educational purposes only. This article is not intended to provide specific legal advice, and should not be relied upon as a substitute for competent advice from a licensed attorney. To speak with one of our attorneys all you have to do is click here.If you’re interested in more in-depth ruminations on this area of the law written 100% by a live human being, visit the Florida Probate & Trust Litigation Blog by going to the home page for firm partner Juan Antunez.