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Probate Attorneys in Orlando, Florida

In Florida, probate proceedings are often required when a loved one dies to settle their estate and final affairs. During probate, the court will appoint an executor to handle necessary tasks, including gathering the decedent's assets, paying taxes and debts, and distributing the remaining assets to rightful beneficiaries. According to a 2018 EstateExec survey, settling an estate may take about 570 hours of effort or nearly 16 months, on average. 

If you want to understand the probate process in your area, consulting with an experienced Florida estate planning attorney is crucial. The attorneys at Veliz Katz Law are committed to offering comprehensive guidance and advocacy to clients in probate and estate administration-related matters. Attorney David W. Veliz and his trusted team can enlighten you about the probate process, how it might affect your surviving loved ones, and help you navigate crucial decisions. 

Veliz Katz Law proudly serves clients across Orlando, Florida, and surrounding areas throughout Central Florida, including Kissimmee, Maitland, and Winter Park. 

What is Probate?  

Probate is a court-supervised process usually required when a person dies to settle their estate and final affairs. The probate process involves collecting and evaluating the decedent's assets, paying debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to rightful inheritors. 

During probate administration, the estate assets and property will be distributed according to the provisions and instructions of the will or Florida intestate succession laws (if the person died intestate—without a will). A seasoned Florida probate attorney can walk you through the legal procedures involved in probate and educate you about some assets that often pass through probate. 

Which Assets Generally Go Through Probate? 

Below are some common assets and property that usually go through probate proceedings in Florida: 

  • Assets owned only in the name of the decedent, including real estate properties and cars 

  • Personal belongings, including clothing, jewelry, collections, and household items 

  • A share of property that is owned as "tenants in common" 

Generally, trust property and assets with valid beneficiary designations will not go through probate. Additionally, jointly owned assets will be transferred directly to the surviving co-own.

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How Probate Affects Your Surviving Family Members 

Probate is typically initiated when someone dies to administer their estate. The decedent's survivors may be affected in the following ways: 

  • Probate is time-consuming. It may take a long time before assets are transferred to rightful inheritors. 

  • Probate is a matter of public record and may affect the privacy of your surviving family members. 

  • Probate is costly and would likely reduce the estate size and funds that your surviving family members might inherit. 

  • The decedent's estate and probate assets are subject to inheritance and estate taxes. 

  • Until the probate is finalized, all of the deceased person's bank accounts and assets will remain frozen. As a result, survivors may have limited or no access to funds and assets. 

A skilled probate attorney can help you understand the different probate administration options in Florida and determine the ideal choice for your unique circumstances. 

Types of Probate 

Here are the different types of probate in Florida: 

Formal Administration 

Formal administration, or formal probate, is the standard form of probate and often takes place in the local circuit court where the decedent lived prior to their death. The probate court will appoint the executor of the will as the personal representative.  

Summary Administration 

Summary administration is available for estate and probate assets valued at less than $75,000. Initiating these probate proceedings requires filing a Petition for Summary Administration. The surviving spouse and/or beneficiaries must sign the petition to commence summary administration. 

Disposition without Administration 

If the deceased person had no real estate property and the value of available assets is lower than the probate cost, their surviving loved ones can bypass the probate hearing through Disposition without Administration. 

The Probate Administration Process 

The Florida probate process starts by filing a Petition for Administration and other related documents with the local circuit court where the decedent lived. Once filed, the circuit court will issue "Letters of Administration" to appoint the executor and grant the petition. The court-appointed executor (or personal representative) will have the duty and legal authority to act on the estate's behalf. 

Role of the Executor or Administrator 

Once appointed, the personal representative, executor, or administrator will perform the following duties: 

  • Gather and assess the decedent's assets and property 

  • Take a detailed inventory of the deceased person's estate 

  • Inform beneficiaries and heirs named in the will 

  • Notify creditors of the probate proceedings 

  • Collect all decedent's income, including rents, dividends, claims, interests, and debts owed 

  • Pay valid claims and debts to creditors. 

  • Settle all debts and pay estate taxes 

  • Prepare and file the deceased person's final income tax returns 

  • Transfer the remaining estate assets and property to rightful beneficiaries and heirs 

  • File a petition to discharge the executor from their fiduciary position. This closes the estate administration proceedings. 

As an executor, it is important that you understand your roles and responsibilities to enable you to perform them diligently and effectively. A knowledgeable attorney can enlighten you about your expected duties and help you throughout this complex process. 

How Legal Counsel Can Help 

Going through probate in Florida after a loved one dies can be difficult and overwhelming. Different tasks—such as gathering assets, paying debts and taxes, transferring assets to inheritors, and resolving probate disputes—can make the entire process quite complicated and stressful. Consulting with an experienced estate planning attorney is crucial for detailed guidance. The attorneys at Veliz Katz Law have devoted their careers to advising and guiding individuals, executors, and fiduciaries through the complexities of probate. As your legal counsel, they can walk you through the probate process from start to finish.  

Probate Attorneys in Orlando, Florida  

If you need help understanding the Florida probate process, contact Veliz Katz Law today to schedule a simple consultation. Attorney David W. Veliz and his team can offer you the personalized legal counsel and advocacy you need to make informed decisions during probate administration. The firm proudly serves clients throughout Florida, including Orlando, Kissimmee, Maitland, and Winter Park.