Probate literally means the official proving of a will.
If a person passes away with a will, the process involves legitimizing the contents of the will and then distributing assets to the beneficiaries of the will. If someone passes away without a will, the process involves locating the heirs of the estate and ensuring that the correct people inherit a person’s assets.
Probate begins almost immediately after a person dies regardless of whether or not there is a will.
When someone passes away, their assets, in most circumstances, become part of their estate. It is up to the personal representative that is either appointed under the will or by a majority of the heirs to ensure that a deceased’s assets are properly passed down to their loved ones. If a person died with a will, also known as dying testate, the process will begin with a probate judge assessing the credibility and legitimacy of the will before admitting it to probate. Once a will is admitted to probate, it will direct how a person’s assets should be distributed. If someone passes away without a will, also known as dying intestate, then Florida law will determine who a deceased’s heirs are and what share of the intestate estate they will receive. In either case, it is up to the personal representative to administer the estate, distribute assets, and deal with creditors of the deceased. Once creditors and expenses of administration have been paid, the personal representative can direct the distribution of assets to the heirs or beneficiaries of the estate. In most cases, the process can take between 6 months and a year depending on the complexity of the situation.
If you have any questions about the probate process, or are in need of a probate attorney, contact us for your free consultation.