Losing someone close to you can be an unbearably emotional experience, not to mention a logistically tough and confusing one. Planning a funeral and clearing out the beloved family home is hard enough without also having to deal with the loved one’s estate. If you have been named as a personal representative, or you are in dispute with another family member over the estate, a Florida estate administration lawyer can help you handle the diverse challenges you’re confronting.
Challenges You May Face
You may not even remember agreeing to be a personal representative of your loved one’s estate, but when that person dies, you are suddenly in over your head. If you’ve been nominated to be the personal representative of a parent’s estate, but you’ve never had to tackle this kind of role before, you won’t know how to handle creditors, coordinate with the court, or respond to communication requests from other beneficiaries. Or maybe you’re an heir who’s frustrated with the behavior of a personal representative who you believe may be mishandling the estate’s finances or even illegally paying certain parties first.
Even uncontested trusts and estates—situations in which everyone generally agrees about what should be done—can lead to complex business and tax questions. Contested trusts and estates, meanwhile, can spark fighting among beneficiaries, bruising battles with creditors, and other issues that can drain the estate of value and cause pain for loved ones.
If you find yourself in one of these situations, an estate administration attorney can help you make sure your loved one’s wishes are honored and that every detail of the estate is taken care of legally and efficiently.
Probate and Trust Administration
If the decedent has left a will, under Florida law, it must go through the court-supervised process called probate. The probate process involves identifying, gathering, and distributing the assets of someone who has recently died as well as paying that person’s debts and distributing assets to beneficiaries. Typically, the personal representative first needs to pay for the costs of probate. Then he or she needs to pay the decedent’s debts. Finally, he or she can distribute the remainder of the assets to beneficiaries.
However, complexities in this process can abound. For instance, with the proper strategy, you may be able to limit the amount of money that goes from the estate to creditors or that the government takes out in taxes.
Florida law recognizes two types of probate administration:
- Summary administration. If it has been more than two years since the death or the estate is valued at less than $75,000, you may take advantage of this simple process.
- Formal administration. If the estate does not qualify for a summary administration, you will be required to go through this much more complex process.
State law also distinguishes between “heirs” and “beneficiaries.” If a person left a will, the assets will go to the beneficiaries—people named in the will to receive the estate. If the person did not leave a will, Florida law will determine the rightful heirs.
If the deceased’s estate was left in trust, it will go through trust administration, which is a process that closely parallels the probate process. However, trust documents do not need to be admitted in court, and the court does not supervise the disposition of the trust.
Call Horacio Sosa for All of Your Estate Administration Needs
You may be dealing with a parent’s Florida estate from a thousand miles away, or you may be overwhelmed by the tasks that have been left to you as a personal representative. Hiring a South Florida estate planning attorney is the smartest thing you can do. Attorney Horacio Sosa knows Florida inheritance law and can take care of the details for you to ensure that your loved one’s wishes are carried out in the most efficient way possible. For help understanding your rights, contact a Florida estate administration attorney at 954-532-9447 right now to schedule a free consultation.