If you are looking for a probate attorney in Clearwater, FL consider the skilled and experienced probate attorneys at O’Connor Law Firm. We will consider your case on an individual basis and customize a plan that meets your needs.
What is probate?
Put simply, probate is the court-supervised legal process of transferring title or ownership of assets and property from a deceased person (the “decedent”) to a living person or charity.
When is Probate needed?
Probate is needed when a person dies owning assets (real and personal property) in his/her individual name. Probate is also needed when co-owned assets lack the authority for automatic succession. For example: when real property is owned as tenants in common each owner owns his/her individual share of the property. When one owner dies probate is needed to transfer the deceased owner’s share of the property. Assets owned jointly with rights of survivorship, as tenants by the entirety and assets payable on death via a beneficiary designation are not part of the “probate estate”.
Where does the probate process happen?
Generally, probate occurs in the county in which the decedent resided, which may not be the county or state where the death occurred. The death certificate will declare the county of residency. Residency information can also be obtained from property records, a driver’s license, voter registration card or similar documents that state a person’s home address. The probate process begins by filing the decedent’s Will (if any), death certificate, and certain other probate documents with the Clerk of the Circuit Court.
Who is in charge of the estate?
The probate judge will appoint a personal representative. The personal representative, among other things, identifies and gathers the decedent’s assets, notifies creditors, pays bills, manages the Estate, and distributes the probate assets to the beneficiaries. Everything the personal representative does is supervised by the Court.
How do I become the Personal Representative?
The decedent’s Will typically nominates a personal representative who may petition the Court to be named personal representative of the estate. If the decedent died without a Will, which is also known as intestate, a family member, beneficiary or attorney may petition the Court to be named as the personal representative of the estate. If the petitioner is qualified under Florida law to serve as personal representative, the judge will issue “Letters of Administration” which provides the personal representative with the legal authority to administer the estate.
Why do I need an attorney for Probate?
There are many legal issues that arise during the probate process, even in a “simple” estate. The attorney advises the personal representative with regards to rights and obligations under the law. The attorney represents the personal representative and is not the attorney for any beneficiary of the estate.
How long will Probate take?
The probate process can take anywhere from 6 weeks up to many years. The average Florida probate takes 8 to 12 months.
Can Probate be avoided?
With proper estate planning probate can be substantially reduced. In some cases it may be possible to eliminated probate entirely.
Serving clients throughout the state of Florida with U.S. Legal Issues
We offer an affordable package of essential estate planning services (Trust, Will, Probate, Durable Power of Attorney, Advanced Health Care Directive and other types of documents) that will meet your needs.