Probate attorney South Florida

Get Probate Help in South Florida

Probate Attorneys for South Florida

When a relative dies in South Florida, it is important to contact a law firm experienced in the probate process. Death is a painful time for family and friends of the decedent. However, the loss of precious family assets left behind by the decedent can make it that much more difficult to cope. It is important to protect the future for you and your loved ones through adequate estate planning to avoid the chance of losing such family treasures due to a lack of preparation.

The decision to plan for the future of your estate will make the transferring of your assets to your loved ones a simpler transition. The transfer of ownership of a decedent’s estate is a legal procedure known as Probate. Probate is a term that inevitably familiarizes itself with survivors of decedents. It is essential that those survivors understand the probate process and its complex area of the law.

What is Probate?

Probate is the legal process of transferring real and personal property in the estate of a deceased person to the appropriate heirs and beneficiaries. It is a procedural term that encompasses all that occurs from the time a person passes away to the time that person’s property transfers legally to its new owners.

How does Probate work?

- A standard probate procedure includes submitting a will, appointing a personal representative, paying creditors, paying tax returns, paying court costs and attorney fees, and ultimately the legal transferring of the decedent’s property to the beneficiaries and heirs.

- The probate process begins by presenting the decedent’s death certificate.

- The county where the decedent was domiciled determines which South Florida probate court will have jurisdiction over the estate’s property.

- Probate is necessary whether or not the decedent had a will. A will can be the main instrument used under Florida Law to facilitate the probate process; however, it does not substitute probate.

- The court appoints a personal representative, who receives legal authority to act on the decedent’s behalf and is responsible for the probate of the estate.

How long will probate take?

- The state encourages efficiency and is set up to bring resolution in a timely manner. While probate generally takes between six and eighteen months, the duration of probate depends on the complexity of the estate as well as other variables.

How Can Our Probate Attorneys Help?

Working with a South Florida Estate Planning and Probate attorney can help protect your loved ones from unwanted expenses and time consuming procedures. For example, a qualified attorney’s expertise can assure that your Will is properly drafted and executed; establish numerous types of Trusts; and advise you on gift giving and property transfers. The use of a competent Estate Planning attorney can help avoid many of the problems that are not easily recognizable to clients or unqualified attorneys. Have the foresight to work with an Estate Planning attorney on your estate plans and drastically reduce the pain and anguish of the probate process for your family.

For more information on successful Florida estate planning and probate techniques, please contact the South Florida law firm of Wild Felice & Partners, P.A. at 954-944-2855 or via email at info@wfplaw.com to schedule your free consultation. It’s a Wild world. Are you protected?

Probate: Frequently Asked Questions

Probate FAQs

What are the steps of Probate?

Generally, the probate process follows the same basic steps regardless of which US state you are domiciled in. The Probate Court, in the state of which you reside, will govern the probate process. The Probate steps include:

• Filing the Will of the decedent with the local court

• Notifying heirs, creditors, and the public of one’s death

• Identifying and inventorying the decedent’s property

• Appraising the property

• Paying off all debts and estate taxes

• Having the Court validate the Will

• Distributing the estate

What are the costs of Probate?

Typically, Probate costs anywhere from 3% to 7% of the total Estate value. There are appraisal costs, executor’s fees, court costs, the costs of a surety bond, legal fees, and accounting fees. Also, if the decedent holds property in more than one state, the Estate may have to face separate probate hearings in each applicable state.

How can I avoid Probate?

A Will is the main facilitator in the bestowment of property from a decedent to his/her beneficiaries. Still, with a valid Living Will probate results. Alternatively, the execution of many legal strategies should occur in an attempt to avoid the probate process. The most frequent probate avoidance strategies include:

• Revocable living trust

• Joint tenancy and tenancy by the entirety

• Payable-on-death designations

• Life insurance

• Gift Planning

A good Estate Plan should absolutely include the implementation of these probate avoidance strategies. It is important to understand that an Estate Plan is not a “cookie cutter” template that can be applied to everyone. What works for one person may not be right for another. By visiting an Estate attorney, you can create an Estate Plan that fits your situation, needs and wants, to assure that you and your family are protected. Such a decision will make the probate process easier on your loved ones.

For more information on how to protect your family and your assets, please contact the law firm of Wild Felice & Partners, P.A. at 954-944-2855 or via email at info@wfplaw.com.

Trust Administration to Lessen or Eliminate the Probate Process

Trust Administration

Trust administration is the legal process of administering your trust and ultimately protecting your assets. The advantage of trust administration is that its saves time and money by drastically lessening or eliminating the probate process. It can also save a lot of heartache by assuring the particular assets in your estate are protected.

Allowing our South Florida law firm to handle your Trust Administration will not only give you the assurance of proper asset protection but will lessen the stress of the mandatory legal procedure involved in administering your trust. That procedure includes inventory of the trust’s assets, the assessment of the value of the assets, the filing of tax returns, the notification of creditors, the notification of beneficiaries, the payment of debts, the attending of all hearings, and the filing of court ordered reports.

Trust administration is a mandatory legal process during which an attorney must be used. The Florida Courts govern the process and administration of a trust according to the Florida statutes. The legal process of trust administration begins immediately at the death of a settlor, and includes time sensitive, court set deadlines that must be adhered to for estate settlement.

At the death of the settlor, a successor trustee selected by the settlor administers the trust. For a person to qualify as a successor trustee, he or she must be a mentally competent, Florida resident of at least 18 years of age with no prior felonies on his or her criminal record. The attorney can help the settlor choose a successor trustee to assure that the trustee has sufficient legal and accounting knowledge to administer the trust properly. In some cases, if the settlor does not have a specific trustee in mind, it may be best to select the estate attorney as the trustee considering that he or she is already familiar with the exact wishes and intentions of the settlor.

The successor is selected at the time the trust is created. It is imperative to consult an attorney when selecting a successor because it is a decision that will absolutely influence the effectiveness of an estate. Such responsibilities of a successor trustee include the duty to be loyal and unbiased to all parties and potential beneficiaries of the trust, assure the trust assets are in an interest bearing account to keep the trust productive, decide on whether to make potentially prudent investments, inform beneficiaries of the trust’s status, and file tax returns, distribute income, keep records and handle all expenses.

For more information on successful Florida estate planning and asset protection techniques, please contact the South Florida law firm of Wild Felice & Partners, P.A. at 954-944-2855 or via email at info@wfplaw.com to schedule your free consultation. It’s a Wild world. Are you protected?

Probate Administration With the Help of a Skilled Estate Attorney

Probate Administration

During Probate, many complications arise that are unrecognizable by those unfamiliar with Probate Administration. Our law firm has the experience and training to avoid such complications, and we take pride in our ability to advise Personal Representatives through Probate.

With the help of a skilled Estate attorney, ensure the proper administration of the estate for the Personal Representative, heirs, and beneficiaries as well as the prevention of costly errors that can occur during Probate Administration.

Our firm can handle all areas of a decedent’s estate. Our services include resolving debt with creditors, following proper procedure to avoid litigation, and gathering the assets of the estate. Your assets will be protected because of our ability to address issues with property exemption, family allowance, elective share benefits, and estate tax reduction.

Furthermore, we will organize and file the US Estate Transfer Tax Return and Florida Estate Tax Return as well as the US Individual and US Fiduciary Income Tax Returns.

Once the beneficiaries receive their assets, the Personal Representative will pay their final fees, and we will have the Personal Representative released and discharged properly to avoid any chance of an estate administration lawsuit down the road.

While probate administration can be costly, stressful, and both energy and time consuming, our firm can manage the process for you to assure that administration of the estate is efficient, cheap, and correct.

For more information on successful Florida estate planning and probate techniques, please contact the South Florida law firm of Wild Felice & Partners, P.A. at 954-944-2855 or via email at info@wfplaw.com to schedule your free consultation. It’s a Wild world. Are you protected? We specialize in asset protection, estate planning and probate administration.

How a Will Affects Probate in Florida

Wills and Probate

The Will plays a crucial role in the Probate process, acting as the main facilitator during Probate. Many people wrongly believe that having a will avoids probate. If the decedent died without having a Will, he or she died intestate, meaning that the Court will follow state statutory law to determine the disbursement of the Estate. Probate will be required whether or not the decedent has left a will since the laws of the State of Florida provide a “will” for those who chose not to make one through the intestacy statutes.

At that point, the fate of your estate is left to a set “Will” provided by the State of Florida based on intestacy statutes, which declare that a decedent without a Will shall have their assets distributed as previously determined by Florida statutes. Generally, intestacy statute process goes as follows: all of a decedent’s estate will go to their spouse (if married without children) or $60,000 will go to the spouse with the remainder of the estate split amongst the children (if married with children). The only way probate can be avoided is with a trust-based Estate plan in place.

If well planned, the Probate process does not have to be complicated or an unpleasant experience. The use of an Estate attorney can help drastically reduce the chances of a Will contest by constructing a Will that both, meets your needs, and abides by the laws of the state. For example, the concerns with the validity of a Will reach beyond the mere drafting of the Will. There are very specific requirements for the execution of the Will as well. So, while the actual language of a Will may be acceptable, a Court can still deem a Will invalid when contested if the proper procedural law was not followed.

Usually a Will contest occurs with large Estates when family members or heirs have conflicting interests. Each party in the Estate will then hire an attorney with the interested party bringing the claim as the plaintiff and the personal representative of the Estate as the defendant. The most common objections in a Will contest include the questioning of the decedent’s mental capacity at the time of the Will’s execution, if the decedent was under duress or undue influence, if the Will was forged, and if the Will meets the states formal procedural requirements such as was the Will properly drafted, signed, witnessed, etc.

Also, a potentially terrifying thought is that Probate litigation becomes public knowledge to anyone who wishes to attain details. Thus, Probate litigation is not only expensive, but also embarrassing for the family and all those involved with the Estate. Lastly and most importantly, if the plaintiff party succeeds in their suit, the decedent’s wishes are not fulfilled, which defeats the whole purpose of the Will.

For more information on successful Florida estate planning and probate techniques, please contact the South Florida law firm of Wild Felice & Partners, P.A. at 954-944-2855 or via email at info@wfplaw.com to schedule your free consultation. It’s a Wild world. Are you protected?

Drawbacks to Probate

Planning your estate to assure the protection of your loved ones in the event of your death is an incredibly important task. Avoiding the subject because the event may seem implausible at this very moment or scary to discuss can leave your family and friends with a tremendous amount of stress and financial hardship in Probate.

Probate is necessary when the decedent has left assets titled in his or her individual name. These assets may include houses, cars, bank accounts, and even life insurance policies or retirement funds. It is irresponsible to go continue through life without having planned your estate, considering that one can be customized specific to your needs at a low cost and in a timely fashion.

The ideal Estate plan allows one to maintain control of their property while living, but allows for your assets to be protected, and your loved ones taken care of, upon your death or disability. A proper Estate plan would allow your very specific intentions to be carried out. Therefore, should you die, your exact wishes would be enacted on, instead of your property being subject to statutory interpretation.

Anyone who says that “Probate is not as bad as it sounds” is probably an Estate attorney. The bottom line is if you have over $75,000 in assets, you should do everything to either avoid probate, or simplify the process, as there are certainly negatives to probate.

The first and most obvious is the cost, with the lawyers, Courts, and creditors being paid prior to the family or beneficiaries seeing a single penny. Another drawback to probate is how time consuming the process is, with the probate of a simple estate taking between 6 and 18 months, while a complex estate can take over 3 years. During the probate process, your family does not have the ability of managing the assets in your estate. So, unfortunately, while certain assets depreciate in value, your family’s hands are tied as they do not have the ability to sell off those particular assets.

A third drawback is the idea that your family’s probate process including all that is included in the estate becomes public knowledge with probate litigation. Wills are filed with the Court and are considered public records, meaning anyone with internet access can view your family’s Will. However, if a Trust is set up, it not only eliminates the Probate process, but it is private information that can only be viewed by the appointed Trustee.

Finally, a very important drawback that should be addressed in a properly planned estate is that beneficiaries are poorly protected in Probate once they inherit an estate. The good news is with adequate estate planning through a trust-based plan set up by a qualified Estate attorney, your loved ones will be protected from manipulation, litigation, and divorce. Without a trust-based plan, your assets that you intended for your family could possibly be stripped from them and end up in the hands of a person you have never met.

For more information on how to protect your family and your assets, please contact the law firm of Wild Felice & Partners, P.A. at 954-944-2855 or via email at info@wfplaw.com. We are specialists in asset protection, estate planning and probate administration.

Wild Felice & Partners, PA
Attorneys at Law
101 North Pine Island Road,
Suite 201
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33324
TELEPHONE 954.944.2855
TOLL FREE 888.832.5554

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