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What is probate?

Probate is legal process through which a deceased person’s real and personal property is administered. Through this process, the decedent’s heirs are identified, the decedent’s assets are collected and distributed to the heirs and the decedent’s remaining debts are paid.

Do I need an attorney to open a probate case?

It depends on the types of Probate proceeding. Most Probate proceedings require a Formal Administration, which requires an attorney to handle. If the assets of the decedent are less than $75,000 or the decedent has been deceased for at least two (2) years, a Summary Administration may be an option. Additionally, a Disposition of Personal Property without Administration is an option when the decedent’s assets consist only of personal property that is exempt from creditors claims and/or non-exempt personal property. In Summary Administration cases and Dispositions of Personal Property without Administration, you should still consult an attorney to ensure a Formal Administration is not necessary and to ensure the case is properly handled and filed in the proper county.

The decedent had a will, is a probate still necessary?

Even if the decedent died testate (with a valid Will), property owned by the decedent at the time of his/her death will in most cases be subject to probate. An experienced Probate attorney will be able to assist you with making this determination.

How do I open a probate case?

Only an interested person, e.g., an heir or beneficiary of the decedent’s estate, may file a Petition to open a Probate proceeding. Also, some Florida counties require specific forms to be filed and procedures to be followed for each Probate proceeding. Examples of some of those counties can be found here:

How much does it cost to open a probate case?

The filing fee for each specific type of Probate proceeding can be county on the county clerk’s website, in the county in which the subject probate proceeding is to be filed.

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