Unless you’ve dealt personally with a death in the family or a close friend, you may wonder what the probate process involves. If you feel that you need a probate in Florida, let Simple Probate offer our services in the Orlando area. We provide assistance to get you started on the process of your family member’s probate, often getting everything done all online.
What Is a Probate Exactly?
Probate is a court-supervised process of authenticating a last will and testament of an individual. This process often includes locating the individual’s assets and determining their value, paying any taxes or final bills, then distributing the remaining balance of the estate to any rightful beneficiaries. If there is no will, a probate will still ensure any bills are paid and the estate is properly distributed according to the individual state laws and codes.
The Probate Process
Every process will most likely be different for each individual who has passed. A probate in Florida, for instance, may be different from a probate in Maine as the state laws can vary. But there are always the same steps involved and the first is to authenticate the last will and testament. State laws determine when you should file the last will, but it’s typically as soon as you can following the person’s passing. An application to open the probate process is usually done at the same time as well, and it may be necessary to also file the death certificate during this process. State courts will have the available forms for you to fill out, leaving it relatively easy to complete. In ensuring the last will is legitimate, there are usually witnesses who have signed sworn affidavits that the will is accurate and most recent. These will have been signed at the same time as when the will was initially created, and is most often sufficient enough for the courts to determine the authenticity of the document.
After the last will and testament is authenticated, the executor of the will is then appointed by a judge. This individual, sometimes called a personal representative or administrator, will oversee the probate process and settle the estate. The decedent will most often determine who they want to be their executor but if they did not specify, then the courts will usually appoint their next of kin for this role. The executor will receive “letters testamentary” which are simply letters from the court allowing the administrator to make transactions on behalf of the estate.
An executor will first locate any assets and property of the decedent, and it may require some digging and research to ensure everything is found properly. Some individuals may not tell anyone of any property or assets, leaving little to no paper trail and thus leaving the administrator to search old tax returns, insurance policies or other documents to get the records and locations. If there’s any property then the executor is in charge of making sure any mortgage payments are made, property taxes are made and insurance is up to date. If the individual’s possessions are small enough, the executor might literally take possession of the items, such as vehicles or household antiques, until everything is finalized.
You will also need to determine the date of death values of all the decedent’s assets before moving onto letting creditors know of the death of the individual. Most states may require an obituary in the newspaper to aid in notifying creditors of the death. Once they are all identified and notified, you are able to pay the decedent’s last bills and file their tax returns. To properly fill out and pay off any remaining taxes or debt, you may have to liquidate any and all assets to get the sufficient amount of funds. With all the debt paid off, you are now able to petition the court to allow you the release of the final amount of funds to any beneficiaries.
Probate in Florida
A probate may seem like a long, arduous journey, but the process can run smoothly when you know what to expect and know that it may take longer than usual in certain circumstances. All the steps will be clear to you and often entail completing one before starting the other, allowing you to focus on one step at a time and avoiding any overwhelming feelings.
If you are dealing with a loved one’s passing and need to complete the probate process, let Simple Probate in Orlando assist you. We offer all the necessary forms and questionnaires to help you get the process started quickly and painlessly. Call or connect with us today!