Understanding the Probate Process
Probate plays a big part in the estate planning process for many families. If your loved one’s estate is going through probate, it is important to understand what to expect. If you are the executor of a will or are in the estate planning process yourself, here is what to expect from probate proceedings:
The probate process
Probate is a legal proceeding that has a formal beginning and conclusion in the court system. Below are the steps a typical estate will go through.
The probate process begins when a family representative or a will’s executor meets with a probate lawyer and provides relevant documents, including the will, the death certificate, financial statements, and property deeds. The lawyer will present these documents to the probate court, which marks the beginning of the probate process.
During this step, the probate court will make a legal determination whether the presented will is valid and can be executed. If there is no will, the court will use Florida law to determine beneficiaries. The will’s executor will be given legal authority to handle the estate as well. The will’s executor will be the primary point of contact for questions and issues that may arise during the probate process.
It is the executor’s responsibility to inform beneficiaries stated in the will. Beneficiaries have the right to know that they were included in someone’s will so they can be involved with the process, ask questions, and contest any parts of the will’s execution.
Next, the executor will inform any creditors that the estate is in the probate process. Creditors can then make claims on the estate if they are owed any debts from the person who passed away.
Estate inventoried and valued
After creditors and beneficiaries are notified, it is time to inventory and value the current estate. The executor will gather documents and assets such as real estate property, bank accounts funds, cars, and other personal assets to value the estate as a whole.
Estate bank account
Any funds from bank accounts and sold assets should be placed in an estate holding account. Funds from this account will be used to pay creditors while the estate is in the probate process.
After the bank account is established, funds are used to pay off debts and necessary bills.
Division of assets
Once debts are paid, the remaining assets are divided among the beneficiaries according to the will.
Petition of discharge
Once the creditor claim period has ended and the assets are divided, the probate process is complete. A probate attorney will present documentation to the probate court that the estate was handled correctly. If the court agrees, it will sign an order of discharge, officially concluding probate.
Probate attorneys in Central Florida
When you work with a team of experienced probate lawyers, like The Boutty Law Firm, we will help guide you through the estate planning and probate process. We serve residents in Orlando, Maitland, and throughout Central Florida. Call our office at 407-710-0774 to speak with a probate attorney today.