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The Top Five Florida Probate Questions You Need To Know


If you have never experienced the death of a friend, life partner or family member it can be an experience into the unknown on many different levels - physical, spiritual, financial.  You might have many questions about what probate is, especially if you have been designated the Personal Representative of the decedent’s Last Will & Testament.  Here are the answers to the top five probate questions most people ask their probate attorney:

Can I be appointed personal representative since I don’t live in Florida?

A non-Florida resident can be appointed personal representative in a probate if that person is: (a) a legally adopted child or parent of the decedent; (b) is related to the decedent by blood; ©.) is the spouse of someone who is eligible to serve; or, (d) a spouse, brother, sister, niece, nephew, uncle or aunt of the decedent or, someone who is related by blood to one of these individuals.

Is it true probate takes years to complete?

No. Most probates which do not involve taxable estates (multi-million dollars) are completed within six (6) months to one (1) year. In a taxable estate a federal estate tax return must be filed with the United States Treasury and the Court will not close the probate until it receives proof that the return is accepted and the tax paid. If someone contests the Will, the probate process can take longer.

Can I disinherit my spouse? (Or, my parent didn’t leave anything to his/her second spouse, is that a problem?)

Florida law provides that a surviving spouse is entitled to thirty percent (30%) of the estate that includes probate and potentially non-probate assets (i.e. assets that pass directly to a designated beneficiary). The surviving spouse’s interests are protected even when the decedent did not name the spouse as a beneficiary in their Will. The only exceptions are if the couple signed a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement waiving their rights to inherit.

Can I sell the decedent’s home without a probate?

If the home was titled in the decedent’s name alone (no joint owner and no beneficiary on the deed) the beneficiary cannot sell the home until the Court enters an order determining the rightful beneficiary.

Must I travel to Florida to be the personal representative?

Today’s technology makes it possible to be a personal representative long-distance. Initially, you will need to travel to the decedent’s home to identify, marshal and secure the assets.

If you want to learn more about the probate process, contact my office to schedule a consultation 954-382-1997.