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Probate: What Would You Like To Know?

Probate is a notoriously complex process. Fortunately, when you work with Michael T. Heider, P.A., you can get answers to all your questions about estate administration, probate and related legal topics. We bring extensive experience to the probate law services that we provide to clients throughout Florida. On this page, you can read answers to some of the questions we hear most often.

What is probate?

Probate is a legal process in which the court verifies a deceased person’s will and oversees the distribution of their assets. High-value estates in Florida must go through an extensive process called formal administration. Estates worth $75,000 or less, though, do not have to go through this. Instead, they go through a less-intensive process called summary administration.

How long does probate take?

Formal administration usually takes six to nine months. Summary administration often wraps up in a few weeks. However, if a dispute arises among beneficiaries or other parties, both types of probate can take much longer.

What is a personal representative?

The court appoints one person called a personal representative (also called an executor) to oversee the formal probate administration. Sometimes, the decedent names a personal representative in their will. If not, the court usually selects the surviving spouse or one of the heirs.

What is probate litigation?

If a conflict emerges among the surviving relatives or beneficiaries, it sometimes requires a lawsuit to resolve it. Most disputes revolve around breach of fiduciary, undue influence or some other suspicion of wrongdoing. Usually, the parties resolve a dispute without a trial.

How can I avoid probate for my estate?

There are several steps that you can take to avoid probate or reduce its impact, such as:

  • Making a living trust
  • Putting property under joint ownership
  • Adding payable-upon-death designations to bank accounts
  • Registering stocks and bonds, real estate titles, and vehicles as transferable-upon-death

Proactive planning with an estate law attorney is the key.

Get More Probate Questions Answered

At Michael T. Heider, P.A., we are available to answer any other questions you have about probate. Get in touch with us for a free, no-obligation initial consultation. Call our Clearwater office toll-free at 888-497-1369 or send us an email to reach us.