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Weston Probate Attorney

What is Probate?

Probate is a bureaucratic legal process to transfer a person’s assets at death and pay the decedent’s unpaid taxes and debts. It is essentially a lawsuit, and the initial pleading is a Petition filed with the court. In order to navigate this legal process, it is important to have an experienced Weston probate attorney. In Florida, you cannot file a Petition for probate unless you have a Florida licensed attorney. Many people think they can avoid probate with a will. This is almost always false. For more information, see our video, What Is Florida Probate? The best way to avoid probate is with a fully funded living revocable trust. See Avoiding Probate In Florida.

What is Florida Probate Intestate Law?

If a person dies without a will, the decedent’s property will not go to the state of Florida but will be distributed according to Florida intestate law. Intestate law can become complex in second marriages with children. You certainly do not want your wishes for how your loved ones are cared for nullified or controlled by Florida state laws. It is important to put in writing your specific wishes in either a will or, much better, a living revocable trust.

What is Florida Probate Summary Administration?

There are two main types of probate administration in Florida. Usually, the fastest and least expensive is Summary Administration. This “Fast Track” procedure is available only if the decedent’s total probate assets (excluding homestead) are $75,000 or less or if the decedent has been deceased for more than two years. See Fast Track Florida Probate. Summary Administration takes approximately 3-6 months if handled by an experienced Weston probate lawyer.

What is Florida Probate Formal Administration?

Formal Probate Administration is the procedure used when Summary Administration is not available or is not the most cost effective procedure. Creditors must be noticed, by direct mail or by publishing a general notice in a paper of general circulation for 90 days. If the decedent had a last will, this will must be proven; if the decedent did not have a will, then the heirs must be determined according to Florida intestate law. Only after all creditors are properly noticed and paid, and all taxes paid, then the Personal Representative can distribute the remaining assets to the decedent’s lawful heirs. The time for Formal Administration in Florida varies throughout Florida according to each county: some counties are more efficient than others. Usually, the time required for Formal Administration is 6-9 months if the administration is not contested. See our Florida Probate Quick Reference Guide.

How Much Does Florida Probate Cost?

As Weston probate attorneys, we endeavor to give you all options for how to engage for probate services. Some probate attorneys will only give you one option: the Florida statutory rate which is 3% of the total value of the probate assets under $1 million. Other attorneys will charge at their hourly rate. We endeavor to give you the option that is best for your family.

3 Important Considerations in Selecting a Weston Probate Attorney
  1. Experience. A probate attorney not experienced in probate administration is likely to take longer and charge more because it takes years of experience to navigate the often arcane Florida probate procedural process.
  2. Specialization. This factor is related to the first: an attorney who concentrates in the field of probate will likely have more probate experience than the attorney who does not.
  3. Flexibility in Attorney Fees. As mentioned, you have choices when it comes to payment for Weston probate legal services. Your attorney should advise you of these choices. An attorney who will only engage in Formal Probate Administration at the statutory rate is not giving you all the options. As Weston probate lawyers, we endeavor to advise you of all your options.