PROBATE

 

WHEN IS PROBATE REQUIRED?
Dealing with the death of a loved one is always difficult. Making it even more challenging is the question of how to handle their estate.

 

At Minot Law we help grieving family members navigate the Florida probate process to ensure it goes as smoothly as possible. Retaining the services of an experienced probate attorney can provide peace of mind during what can be an otherwise difficult time.

A BRIEF OVERLOOK OF PROBATE

Probate provides the means to administer the affairs of a deceased person’s estate. This task is accomplished with the assistance of the probate court. If the deceased person had a valid will or trust, those documents will communicate the intentions of the decedent.

A decedent’s will may express their preference of a family member, friend, or trusted advisor to administrate and fulfill the decedent's wishes. This person is referred to as the personal representative of the estate. Many people accept the role of the personal representative of a will, or trustee of a trust, without realizing the potential complexities of the process. For this reason, they often choose to work with a trusted law firm instead of undertaking the process alone.

AN OVERVIEW OF THE PROBATE ADMINISTRATION PROCESS 

The personal representative has many responsibilities including duties to both beneficiaries and creditors. In most cases the personal representative named in the will is required to file the appropriate documents with the probate court. In the event there is no will, an interested party should consult with a probate attorney to review the available options. 

 

After opening probate with the assistance of an attorney the personal representative will attempt to identify, collect, and appraise all estate assets. Additionally, the attorney will provide guidance for resolving any debts as well as assist with the determination of rightful heirs.

 

Without the help of a probate attorney, it is easy to make mistakes and miss deadlines which can result in increased costs that are often the responsibility of the administrator.

  

What is our fee? The fee for working with a knowledgeable probate attorney at Minot Law follows the fee schedule outlined by the Florida probate code.

 

If you are interested in reviewing a probate matter or begin the probate process, please contact Minot Law at (321)349-3004 to schedule a free initial consultation.

PROBATE

COMMON QUESTIONS

Florida law permits personal representatives to receive reasonable compensation. Family members often choose to waive this compensation, but they are still legally entitled to reasonable compensation. You can define the compensation your personal representative will receive in your will, as long as the definition is reasonable. Compensation for personal representatives is set by the Florida Statutes as a percentage of the assets of the probate estate. The compensation payable is equal to 3% on the first $1 million; 2.5% on estates above 1 million and not exceeding $5 million; and lower percentages for estates above $5 million.

Does a Personal Representative receive compensation? 

No, a named personal representative is not required to serve in this role. They serve at their own discretion. If named, they can decline their appointment and it would fall to the next in line.

Are personal representatives required to serve if named in a will?

The Probate Court retains jurisdiction to decide will and trust contests. Typically, attorneys are retained to represent each party’s interests in these disputes. Most will or trust disputes are resolved prior to a trial through the use of alternative dispute resolutions, such as mediation and informal settlement discussions between the parties. If necessary, the Probate Court can resolve all estate planning disputes between parties.

Most disputes claims that the decedent did not have the necessary capacity to execute their will or they were unduly influenced to have certain provisions in their will.

What happens if someone contests a will or trust?

Most individuals select a trusted family member to serve as their personal representative. If this is not an option, some individuals select a trusted professional such as their financial advisor or attorney. 

Who usually serves as a personal representative of an estate?

Yes. Someone can express their desires of this nature at any time at no cost by writing a letter of instruction. Letters of instruction can be updated as often as desired.

Are special instructions regarding personal property (like jewelry, firearms, family heirlooms, etc.) valid?

Payable-on-death accounts transfer directly to the beneficiary named on the account. Most institutions require a copy of the death certificate as well as two forms of identification from the beneficiary. Once the institution’s requirements are satisfied, the account is transferred to the beneficiary.

Are pay-on-death bank accounts, retirement accounts and life insurance policies part of the probate estate?