Florida Probate Attorney
Facing the loss of a loved one is always difficult and can become even more stressful when you are expected to deal with a legal process called “probate”. When you’re grieving, the last thing you want to think about is going through the legalities and unfamiliar procedures of the probate process. We understand that this process can seem daunting, which is why our wills and probate attorneys are here to help.
What Is Probate?
So, what is probate? Probate is a judicial process of validation of a deceased person’s will, administration of decedent’s estate, and distribution of assets to heirs or other named beneficiaries.
Since every individual estate is unique and each state has its own set of probate laws, the probate process can vary in every situation. The type of probate needed depends on the size and complexity of the estate and whether the person died with or without a will (intestate).
Probate is typically a lengthy and stressful process that requires a good understanding of legal regulations, preparing and filing various documents in a timely manner, and multiple court appointments. The probate process is a nightmare for most families, so it is best to get help from an experienced attorney during these challenging times. The probate attorneys at The DeVries Law Firm, P.A. can make the process much easier and secure the most favorable solution in your case.
When Probate Is Necessary?
Not all estates need probate in Florida. If the person passes away with a will or trust and when their property, bank accounts, annuities, insurance policies and all assets have named beneficiaries, probate may not be needed.
There is one common misconception that if the deceased has a will, probate is not necessary. However, this is not true. There are five common reasons when an estate needs to be probated and you will have to go to the probate court.
Probate is required when
- There is no valid last will and testament to determine the beneficiaries and heirs at law
- There are problems with the existing will or if it was fraudulently executed or when the will was made under undue influence
- There are no beneficiaries named or the named beneficiaries have predeceased the decedent
- The assets are solely in the deceased’s name
- The decedent owned any property as a tenant in common with others
If anyone of the above applies to you or the deceased, then it is in your best interest to consult a probate attorney immediately to review all the options available to you under the probate laws of Florida State.
What Types Of Disputes Can Arise In Estate Matters?
Disputes between beneficiaries: Many complications can arise when it comes to estate matters, but those involving disagreements between named beneficiaries can be particularly complex. This type of dispute can create all sorts of problems and can even tear a family apart. Our attorneys will use alternate dispute resolution methods or where necessary, will vigorously fight in the courtroom to ensure your rights and interests are protected when such disputes arise.
Conflict with the estate executor/administrator: This is another common dispute that arises when the beneficiaries do not agree to the decisions of the executor. Our attorney will do negotiations or arrange settlement conference to work out a deal and reach compromises so as to ensure that the estate administration process is completed as quickly as possible and the beneficiaries receive what is rightfully theirs.
Executor disputes: For serious disputes such as when the executor/administrator does not act in the best interest of the estate, intentionally delay the process of trust or estate administration, willfully causes loss to estate assets or steals from the estate, the executor can be taken to court. If the executor is found dishonest or incompetent, the court can even remove them and appoint someone else. We highly recommend you to seek the counsel of an experienced probate litigation attorney if you have any questions about removing an executor.
Will contests: Will contest or a will challenge may arise when the will is not properly drafted and witnessed or when someone believes that the offered will does not reflect the actual intent of the testator and there was undue influence. This is one of the most challenging probate disputes and only a lawyer who has the necessary experience and solid foundation in litigation can defend clients in contested probate matters effectively. At The DeVries Law Firm, P.A., our Jacksonville probate attorneys have handled all kinds of litigation disputes, including will contests, and we are happy to help you, irrespective of the situation you find yourself in.
What Does A Jacksonville Probate Attorney Do?
In uncomplicated cases, the probate lawyer will act as an advisor to the named/appointed executor or administrator, providing legal assistance and advice in the handling of the decedent’s affairs.
In more complicated estates, the attorney has a much more important role in the administration and distribution of assets. Estate administration through probate can take a minimum of six months to one year, or possibly longer dependent upon estate plan, assets and legal entanglements. Here is where the probate attorney’s guidance can be exceptionally useful.
Our attorneys understand probate law from all sides and strive to provide the best guidance on fine points of law for our clients. Here are some of the tasks that a Jacksonville probate and wills attorney can handle for you:
- Prepare wills and power of attorney documents and do estate administration
- Prepare and file the probate documents in the court effectively and in a timely fashion
- Advises on tax issues at both the federal and state levels and helps reduce or eliminate the estate tax
- Get appraisals and obtain real values of the estate’s assets and properties
- Collect proceeds from life insurance policies and manage retirement plans, such as IRAs and 401(k)s
- Help pay the debts of the estate or assist in the sale process of the estate if there aren’t enough liquid assets
- Deal with those who contest the will or creditor claims through mediation or appropriate litigation
- Create a living trust to avoid probate, when needed
- Manage the asset distribution process and provide expert guidance on estate management
- Settle any disputes between the personal representative and the estate’s beneficiaries
So if you are involved in a probate matter and looking for a probate and wills attorney in Jacksonville, FL, then give us a call today at (904) 373-6827 to speak to one of our expert lawyers. Our qualified probate attorneys focus quickly on the issues that matter and guide you through the right choices for you and everyone involved.
It is highly advised to seek a professional probate and wills attorney in Jacksonville, FL to assist you with preparing important estate plan documents and the probate process. Many try to put together a will without the help of a seasoned probate and wills attorney, but that usually results in unreliable or flawed documents that will not protect you, your assets, or your loved ones. If your documents are not done correctly, the court will step in to try to untangle your wishes and inclination in probate. At The DeVries Law Firm, P.A., we will devise a reliable estate plan complete with the tools necessary, such as a will, trust, declaration of guardianships, powers of attorney, and designations, to meticulously fit your needs and wishes.
What Is Probate In Florida? Is There More Than One Type Of Probate?
Sometimes, when a family member passes away, the court has to decide where the deceased person’s things should go. Probate is when the court has to determine who receives the assets of that family member who has recently passed away. There are three types of probate in Florida: Disposition without Administration, Summary Administration, and Formal Administration. Read more
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