What can a probate attorney do for me?

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The different forms of Florida Probate Probate is the term used to describe the process which allows for the distribution of the assets of someone who has died. Summary administration is the term used to describe a simpler type of probate which can be used if the deceased person's probate estate (their total assets at time of death) were under $75,000 and held only in their own name, or if they died more than two years ago.

     A probate attorney may seem unneeded when using this type of probate. Occasionally, even an executor (referred to at the personal representative in FL) will not even be needed. However, the initial apparent simplicity of many estates can quickly disappear into a more convoluted morass of heretofore unknown liabilities, assets, or other factors. Accordingly, the counsel of a probate attorney is required by FL law during all summary administration probate cases.

Formal administration is the term used to describe the other typical form of probate. Formal administration would be utilized if the estate includes real estate or is worth more than $75,000, or if the person has been deceased for under two years.This form is applicable if the person died less than two years ago and the probate estate includes real estate and/or is worth more than $75,000. Formal administration can be much more complicated than summary administration, and also requires that a probate attorney counsel the personal representative.

Another more simple type of probate is available in FL for estates that only include enough assets to provide for payment of medical expenses for the final 60 days of life and funeral costs, and/or 'exempt property' such as furniture and cars. Funeral expenses would be limited to $6,000. 'Disposition of personal property without administration' is the title of this type of probate, and does not require the counsel of an attorney.

Do I need a Probate Attorney? It should be quite obvious by now that it can become quite complicated to process an estate through probate in FL. The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Law promulgated the Uniform Probate Code or UPC, which has been adopted by quite a few states, including FL.

Even though the UPC does attempt to streamline the probate process, any state adopting it is free to make as many changes as they want. Consequently, conforming to FL probate procedures as they are written in the Florida UPC is mandatory.

As stated earlier, even the most simple probate estates can give rise to previously unknown issues, which will be unfamiliar and very likely confusing to a layperson who has not previously dealt with the probate process.

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The Work of a Florida Probate Lawyer A probate attorney advises and represents the personal representative during the probate process, which, as mentioned before, can be unclear to and not easily understood by anyone not trained and experienced in the proceedings. The probate attorney usually will not have to be located near the jurisdiction where the probate is being processed, as they can usually handle it all through the mail. However, court appearances might be required if the probate is being contested. The probate attorney also helps the personal representative to pay off any and all creditors, figure the income tax and estate tax liability, record the proper forms, and finally, properly disburse the assets among the beneficiaries.