Important Steps in the Probate Process
The probate process is in place to supervise the validation and execution of a person’s will, the closure of the financial estate and the distribution of his or her assets. The majority of the probate process is standard, yet critically important, administrative work. The following are several important steps:
- Starting probate: Probate begins when an individual asks to be named as the executor of a deceased person’s estate through a petition or application to the local probate court. Typically, this requires filing an application, death certificate and the original copy of a person’s will.
- First hearing: Following your petition, you will need to send formal notice of the decedent’s death to all beneficiaries, creditors and any other relevant parties. The court then schedules a preliminary hearing to ensure there are no objections to you being named as the executor.
- Posting a bond: If a will does not state that no bond is required, the court may ask the executor to post a bond to protect the estate from losses. If survivors of the decedent are in agreement over the contents of the person’s will, a bond may not be required.
- Validating the will: To validate the will, you’ll need a statement from witnesses of the will’s creation. This usually includes a signature, a sworn statement or a court testimony.
- Managing property: After the will is validated, the case will remain pending for several months to allow creditors to claim payment for debts. The executor may also need to provide the court with a list of the decedent’s property and appraisals for assets.
- Distribution of assets: Beneficiaries must wait to receive their inheritances until after the creditors’ claim period is over, debts are paid, the decedent’s final tax return is filed and any disputes are settled. Once this distribution takes place, the executor may file a request with the court to officially close the estate.
For more information or guidance on this process, consult a trusted Florida probate administration attorney at the Charles Law Offices.