Jacksonville Probate Attorney
Work With Probate Specialists in FL
Probate is the official verification of a will. In Florida, handling a loved one’s assets and liabilities upon their death is called administering the probate of their estate. This process occurs whether or not the decedent (the person who died) had a will.
Under Florida state law, the probate process is mandatory if the decedent owned assets. It must occur before those assets can be transferred to anyone else—even if the beneficiaries are the decedent’s family members.
What Is a Probate Lawyer?
A probate attorney, sometimes referred to as an estate lawyer or a probate lawyer, is a legal professional who provides guidance to personal representatives, beneficiaries, or heirs of an estate on how to settle the final affairs of a deceased individual, known as the decedent. In Jacksonville, Florida, a probate attorney can guide you through the complex and often nuanced probate process. Working with a probate attorney near you can alleviate the burdens of paperwork, legal formalities, and disputes among claimants, providing invaluable support during a challenging time.
What Does a Probate Lawyer Do?
A probate attorney can explain Florida's probate laws, assist in the identification and collection of the decedent's assets, pay off any owed debts, and distribute the remaining assets as per the decedent's wishes or, in the absence of a will, as per Florida's intestacy laws.
Other services probate lawyers can provide include, but are not limited to:
- Offering Legal Advice: Probate lawyers provide legal advice to representatives on how to administer the decedent's estate effectively and lawfully. They provide guidance on various probate law matters, including how to pay off debts and taxes, and how to properly distribute assets among beneficiaries.
- Navigating Court Proceedings: Probate lawyers represent personal representatives in court proceedings. They can navigate the nuances of probate court and help speed up the process.
- Resolving Estate Disputes: If disputes arise among beneficiaries, a probate attorney can act as a mediator, helping to negotiate agreements and resolve issues without further legal action.
- Managing Estate Taxes: Probate attorneys can help in the calculation and payment of any estate taxes that may be due. They can also suggest strategies to minimize these taxes.
- Assisting with Property Sales: If the estate includes real estate that needs to be sold, a probate lawyer can assist with this process, ensuring that all legal requirements are met.
- Providing Guidance on Legal Matters of the Estate: Probate lawyers can guide representatives through legal matters such as how to handle the decedent's final bills and debts, how to maintain estate assets, and how to address claims against the estate.
Remember, when you need a probate attorney in Jacksonville, Florida, a qualified probate law firm must understand the stress and complexities of probate administration. At Edwards & Edwards, P.A. we are committed to ensuring a smooth transition of assets. Our lawyers have the experience you need to make the process of probate as smooth at possible.
Under Florida Probate Rule 5.030, probate cannot be handled without an attorney unless the decedent’s estate qualifies for a Disposition of Property without Administration. The only exception is if the party is the sole heir/beneficiary of an estate.
Additionally, Florida Statute 733.6171 outlines the attorney’s fees for probate. No matter how much or how little experience the attorney has, the base cost is enforced by the state.
Because an attorney is required for the probate process and the fees are already set, it is imperative to do your research and find an Jacksonville probate attorney who not only specializes in probate, but also has ample experience in the area to make the probate process as smooth as possible during this challenging time.
Put 50+ Years of Experience on Your Side
Losing a loved one can be an extremely difficult experience. That’s why our team of probate attorneys in Jacksonville at Edwards & Edwards, P.A. are dedicated to making the process as stress-free as possible so you can have peace of mind during this life transition.
In Florida, the assets that go through the probate process are the ones that the decedent owned in their name during the time of their passing.
This typically includes things like:
- Bank accounts
- Investment accounts
- Life insurance policy
- Retirement account payable to the estate
- Real estate
Other assets that also go through are assets that were owned by the decedent and one or more co-owners did not provide information regarding automatic succession of ownership at death.
How Long Does Probate Last In Florida?
At Edwards & Edwards, P.A., our Jacksonville probate lawyers stay on top of all probate cases, speeding up the completion of the process to as quick as 30 days, depending on the complexity and the cooperation of the parties in each case. For more complex and high-value estates, the probate process can take 6-12 months to complete, however it also depends on the type of estate that is being processed.
Average time it takes to probate different estates:
- Simple Estate: about 3 months or less
- Formal Administration: about 1 year
- Complex Cases: 2 years or more
If estates are being disputed or in litigation, it may take even longer for the probate process to close. In some situations, documents may be missing, beneficiaries cannot be found, the assets cannot be collected easily -- it is possible for probate to go on for a long period of time. That is why it may be helpful to have an experienced Jacksonville probate attorney by your side.
Generally, the probate proceeding takes place in the county where the decedent was living at the time of death. At the hearing, beneficiaries and heirs are given notice so they have the opportunity to object or agree. Heirs refer to those who would inherit assets according to state law in the absence of a valid will.
The court then issues Letters of Administration, which is a document that gives the probate attorney authority to settle the estate. If a will is in place, it must be filed with the court to be proven valid.
4 Basic Steps to Probate In FL
- Initiate the Petition and Beneficiary Notification - Submit a petition to the probate court. You choose whether to probate the will and name an executor or, in cases with no will, appoint an estate administrator. Beneficiaries and heirs receive notice of the upcoming hearing, and they can express any concerns.
- Take On Court-Appointed Responsibilities - The personal representative informs creditors in writing about the chance to claim estate assets. Creditors need to act within a specific time frame. A thorough inventory includes real estate, business interests, stocks, and more. Sometimes, hiring an appraiser is a smart move for an accurate assessment of non-cash assets.
- Sette the Estate's Debts and Obligations - The personal representative settles these claims and final financial obligations. Occasionally, selling estate assets is necessary to meet obligations. This sets the stage for asset transfer to rightful beneficiaries.
- Transferring Assets to Intended Beneficiaries - The personal representative seeks court approval for transferring the remaining assets to beneficiaries listed in the will. If the will mandates a trust for a spouse, incapacitated family member, or minor, the funds move to a trustee. With court approval, property transfer deeds are arranged, stocks change hands, and assets can change ownership or be liquidated.
Under the court’s supervision, the probate attorney will:
- Gather and take inventory of the decedent’s assets
- Pay debts and taxes
- And distribute what’s left to beneficiaries and heirs
The attorney must submit a final accounting to the court, showing all the estate contained, how the assets have been dispersed, and the plan for distribution. Anyone who objects can do so in court. After everything has been allocated, the probate attorney files receipts (evidence) with the court and asks that the estate be closed. The court then issues an order closing the estate.
Navigating the intricate probate process in Florida can be overwhelming, especially during the emotional aftermath of losing a loved one. Allow Edwards & Edwards, P.A. to be your guiding light during this challenging time. Our dedicated team of probate lawyers is committed to shouldering the burden, ensuring that your loved one's estate is handled with the utmost care and precision.
At Edwards & Edwards, P.A., we can help simplify the probate process and support you every step of the way. Our knowledgeable team of probate lawyers can guide you through these stages. With years of experience, we're committed to making probate clear and manageable for you. Trust us to navigate the intricacies, ensuring your loved one's estate is handled thoughtfully and efficiently.
What Happens In Probate If There Is No Will?
If the deceased person did not create a last will & testament before they passed on, then their assets will go through intestate or “intestate succession”. This means determining who may inherit assets will be based upon the state of Florida and its intestate statutes.
Does Probate Require an Appearance in Court?
Typically, probate that is not contested does not require an appearance in court. However, if an estate dispute does occur, then you may be required to attend a hearing. If you choose to work with an experienced Jacksonville probate lawyer then that attorney may appear at court for you. In some cases, hearings may also be conducted via phone.
Why Choose Edwards & Edwards, P.A.?
Many firms choose to exclusively practice one area of law. However, our attorneys have over half a century of experience handling many different case types because we know that any given legal dilemma rarely fits into a single practice area.
Our Jacksonville probate attorneys apply a multifaceted approach to every case, which allows us to anticipate the full range of potential consequences and benefits of each legal strategy. At our core, we are problem-solvers, and we look forward to helping you overcome your legal or financial challenge as soon as possible.
We know this can be a confusing process, and we’re happy to answer any questions you have. Contact us online or call (904) 478-9255 to speak with a probate lawyer in Jacksonville at Edwards & Edwards, P.A.
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