Miami Probate Attorney
At the Miami law firm of Vernita C. Williams, Esq., PA, we help clients with even the largest estates successfully navigate the Florida probate process. Attorney Williams has more than 10 years of experience dealing with estate litigation and the administration of estates of all sizes.
When Is Probate Necessary?
Probate is necessary when a person dies owning property in his or her own name and that property needs to be transferred to the heirs.
Are There Different Types of Probate?
Yes, there are three types of probate in Florida:
- Formal administration is the most common and preferred route if investigation or research is necessary in order to determine what bank accounts or other assets the deceased owns. In such cases, a personal representative is appointed and given the legal authority to make inquiries and gather information to process the case.
- Summary administration is a simpler and quicker form of probate available for small estates with assets less than a certain amount. It is also available for estates where the deceased passed away more than two years before. However, if there are minor heirs, unknown assets and debts or other issues, you should file for formal administration instead.
- Disposition of personal property without administration is useful for very small estates. For instance, if there is cash in the deceased’s bank account that needs to be paid out for funeral expenses, this type of probate may be appropriate.
What Does the Probate Process Look Like?
After choosing a Miami probate lawyer, your lawyer will help you decide which type of probate to file. If you are filing formal administration, a personal representative must be appointed. The courts provide clear-cut guidelines on how to qualify as a personal representative.
The personal representative is responsible for marshalling the deceased person’s assets and determining his or her debts. Then the court will decide what percentage of the money goes to which beneficiaries and creditors. The final goal of probate is to transfer the assets of the decedent to whom they belong.
Important Things to Remember If Your Loved One Has Died
- Do not give in to creditors who call and try to get you to pay the deceased person’s bills. Many times these creditors are not entitled to be paid from the estate, and unless you are a joint borrower, it’s not your obligation.
- Do not forge a deed and try to put the deceased person’s property in your name even if you are the surviving heir and will eventually get the property. Allow the court process to give you the property through proper procedures.
- Do not begin drawing money out of the deceased person’s bank account or make charges on his or her credit cards. You may be caught and prosecuted.
- Do not try to start the probate process on your own. The local courthouse will help you open a safe deposit box or file for disposition of property without administration. Other probate proceedings will require a lawyer.
- Do not try to exclude any of the heirs of the decedent from the probate process. If you are caught trying to mislead the court about who the relatives are, you will lose credibility with the judge and other parties involved in the case and could make the probate process more adversarial, costly and cumbersome than it should be.