I. Probate is a legal process that takes place after someone dies. It includes:
  • Judge reviews and approves that a deceased person’s will is valid (if there is a will) – the “testate estate”- and the probate process begins
  • If there is no will, all assets that are owned solely by decedent must also pass through probate process [“Intestate estate”] but without the benefit of the decedent’s personal objectives- a Florida law will dictate who are the heirs and what they receive
  • Identify, prepare and file an inventory of the decedent’s property -Maintain and preserve estate property (example: real estate)- make plans to sell, lease or distribute
  • Identify and pay enforceable debts and taxes ; and Publish newspaper notice as to unknown creditors and
  • Distribute the remaining property as the will (or state law, if there’s no will) directs.
II.     Based on the size of the estate if full Formal Administration is required or if a summary action would be sufficient
  • If formal administration is not needed, the process will be shorter and less expensive (less legal fees)
  • Even when an estate is eligible for a summary proceeding, Letters of Administration may be required in special circumstances, i.e. wrongful death
  • The petitioner in either proceeding (whether formally appointed as Executor/Personal Representative, or not,) serves in a fiduciary or caretaker capacity. The job requires diligence and hard work on behalf of all the beneficiaries.
III.      Assets which avoid probate court :
  • Jointly-owned assets between husband and wife
  • Jointly-owned assets with non-spouse which is titled JTWROS
  • Trust owned assets
  • Financial accounts with POD or ITF designations, if available
  • Retirement, pension plans, IRAs, Roth IRAs, etc – with proper beneficiary designation
  • Life insurance and annuities- with proper beneficiary designation
For further information, please contact: Atty. Silvia S. Ibanez, Tel # 407-846-9449, Kissimmee, Fl. 34741