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Clearwater Probate Attorneys

Efficiently Handling Your Family's Probate Needs

Backed by more than 40 years of combined legal experience, our probate attorneys have a comprehensive understanding of this area of law. Our Clearwater probate lawyers can help you quickly and efficiently resolve all your probate needs while ensuring your rights and best interests are protected throughout the process.

Also, using our extensive experience and in-depth understanding of estate planning law, we can provide you with well-informed legal counsel. When you need effective legal representation for your probate or trust administration needs, contact O’Connor Law Firm.

You can schedule a free consultation with one of our Clearwater probate lawyers by calling us today at (800) 655-0175.

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. Probate is needed when a person dies owning assets (real and personal property) in their 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 their 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.

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
  • A voter registration card
  • Similar documents that state a person’s home address

The Probate Process in Florida

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. Then, 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.

Trust Administration

The trust administration process begins when a decedent passes with a valid trust in place. The successor trustee becomes responsible for distributing the assets and paying any debts of the estate in accordance with the wishes of the decedent. This is generally a simplified process compared to probate, and administration can take place without having to go to court.

Your trust administration lawyer will help guide you through the process, including handling creditor claims, beneficiaries distributions, and disputes. O'Connor Law Firm works with families to ensure the wishes of the estate are carried out.

How to Become a Personal Representative

In the case of probate, the decedent’s will typically nominate a personal representative who may petition the court to be named personal representative of the estate. In administration, this is carried out through the terms of the trust.

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 a personal representative, the judge will issue “Letters of Administration” which provides the personal representative with the legal authority to administer the estate.

To learn more about probate and how our Clearwater probate lawyers can help you, contact us today at (800) 655-0175.

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