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Miami Probate Attorney

Providing Valuable Legal Assistance Throughout the Probate Process

Everyone has an estate, not just those with several valuable assets, real property, or excess funds to leave behind. Your estate deserves to be protected, and your assets should be distributed to your intended beneficiaries. Probate is the legal process in which the court oversees the distribution of assets and property left behind by the deceased. If there is a will, the probate court will recognize the personal representative of the estate, whose responsibility it is to locate beneficiaries, pay off debts, distribute assets, and eventually close the estate.

There are three different types of probate proceedings in the state of Florida.

Disposition without administration allows an estate to skip probate hearings in very limited circumstances and situations. This type of probate process is only available to those who did not leave behind any real estate, and their total assets were valued at less than the final expenses after completing probate.

Formal probate administration, also known as formal probate, is the standard type of probate. Formal administration proceedings occur in your local Circuit Court where the deceased person (the decedent) lived at the time of their passing. Formal probate begins when the executor of the estate asks the court to be appointed as the personal representative of the estate for the probate process.

Finally, summary administration is sometimes used whenever the total value of the property that goes through probate is valued at $75,000 or less. Also, summary administration may be utilized when a death occurred more than two years before the beginning of the probate process.

If all of this sounds a little bit overwhelming and confusing, that’s okay. In fact, that’s the typical response that most people have towards the probate process. But that’s why lawyers, such as attorney Pedro Armando Perez-Roura, proudly provide their legal services to clients who need help throughout the probate process. To learn more about how we can assist you during this difficult legal matter, please contact our Miami law offices for a free initial consultation.

What Are the Responsibilities of the Personal Representative in the Probate Process?

The personal representative can be an individual, a bank, a trust company, or a lawyer who has been appointed by a family law judge to oversee probate estate administration following the death of an individual. While other states use terms like executor or administrator, Florida prefers the term personal representative.

The personal representative has several duties, including:

  • Locate, identify, value, and gather all the deceased’s probate assets. This may include, but is not limited to, real estate property, motor vehicles, valuable jewelry, and more.
  • Publish a notice to creditors in a local newspaper. This notice gives potential claimants and creditors the chance to come forward and file claims against the estate.
  •  Serve a notice of administration. This notice provides information about the role and responsibilities of the personal representative throughout the probate process. It states the rules and procedures that must be followed according to the will and family law court. If there are any objections, someone may respond to this notice of administration.
  • Perform a search to locate creditors and notify those creditors of the time in which they must file a claim or else forfeit their right to a claim. If a valid claim is made, the personal representative must pay that claim from the value of the estate. It is also their responsibility to object to improper or fraudulent creditor claims against the estate.
  • The personal representative must file tax returns and pay any taxes due on the estate.
  • It is the personal representative’s right to employ probate lawyers for legal assistance throughout the probate process. In many cases, they are encouraged to do so.
  • The personal representative must pay all necessary expenses for administering the probate process.
  • Locate and identify all named beneficiaries in the last will. If a trust exists, the beneficiaries of the trust must also be located. Then, if any assets or property remain after having settled outstanding debts against the estate, the personal representative will begin distributing assets to the identified beneficiaries.
  • If there is a dispute or someone comes forward to contest the will, the personal representative should look to estate litigation attorneys for assistance.
  • Finally, when all is said and done, the personal representative is responsible for closing the probate estate.

What if Someone Dies Without a Last Will and Testament?

An individual who passes away without a will dies ‘intestate.’ In such cases, their estate will pass through the intestate succession process. Through this process, the state will decide how to distribute the decedent’s assets.

Typically, a surviving spouse will inherit most of the property through intestate succession. Following the spouse, any children of the deceased are prioritized. Other issues like guardianship will also be determined by the court.

The deceased individual’s spouse will also likely take on the fiduciary duty of being the personal representative for the estate.

If you wish to ensure that your assets are left to your intended heirs, it is vital that you draft a valid will with the help of an estate planning attorney in your state.

How to Avoid Probate in Florida?

It’s natural to want to avoid the probate process, as probate can be lengthy, costly, and challenging both legally and emotionally. However, in many cases, probate is a necessity that we must all go through.

That said, there are certain ways to ensure that specific assets avoid the probate process.

If you are concerned about probate and wish to avoid it, talk to a probate lawyer about the following options:

  • Beneficiary designations for life insurance policies and retirement accounts.
  • Giving gifts.
  • Joint ownership or joint tenancy.
  • Lady Bird deeds.
  •  Living trusts.
  • Payable-on-death designations for bank accounts.
  • Simplified probate.
  • Transfer-on-death deeds.

What Does a Probate Lawyer Do?

As your estate lawyer, Pedro Armando Perez-Roura and his highly skilled legal team can assist you with the following:

  • Advising the personal representative on how to settle debts.
  • Contending with estate litigation if someone wishes to challenge the terms of the will.
  • Determining whether any estate or inheritance taxes are due.
  •  Filing necessary documents required by the probate court.
  •  Identifying and gathering estate assets.
  • Managing proceeds from life insurance policies.
  •  Managing the estate’s checkbook as a neutral third party.
  • Obtaining appraisals for the deceased property
  • Transferring assets to named beneficiaries.

Schedule a Free Consultation with an Experienced Probate Attorney in Miami

Probate can be a time-consuming process that many of us would rather do without or need legal assistance contending with probate. There is nothing wrong with asking for help through the probate process. That’s what we’re here for.

Our law firm has extensive legal experience helping clients through complicated probate issues. To learn more about our legal services, contact our law office to schedule your free case evaluation today. You may call us at 305-570-3259.