How Does Probate Work In Florida?

The loss of a family member or friend is extremely difficult. In the midst of grieving, you may be faced with "probate", the legal process required to administer a person's estate. The problem is, probate usually only adds to the confusion survivors are already feeling and can be an emotionally and financially challenging process in its own right.

Fortunately, there is a solution and in Pensacola and northwestern Florida, it's the legal team at We can provide answers to your questions, assist you in following the necessary steps and in most cases, greatly reduce the time spent in probate as well. Contact us so that you and your family members can start focusing on more important life matters today.

Florida's Probate Process

Florida has two distinct types of probate: "Summary Administration" and "Formal Administration."

Summary administration is the shortened, simpler type of probate but can only be used in cases where the death occurred more than two years ago or when the value of estate assets not exempt from creditor claims is $75,000 or less. The process begins when the personal representative/executor named in the will (if there was one) or another interested party (usually someone who stands to inherit) files a "Petition for Summary Administration" with the court. This document essentially states that summary administration is appropriate, lists the estate's assets and their values, tells the court who will inherit which assets, and asks the court to issue an official order to that effect.

Formal administration, as the name implies, is a more complex and potentially confusing process. It begins in similar fashion with an executor named in the will or another interested party filing a court petition to open the estate. The petition itself simply asks the court to formally appoint a personal representative. Beneficiaries named in the decedent's will and heirs who would stand to inherit in the absence of a valid will must also be notified of the petition. Once the court appoints a personal representative, it will issue "Letters of Administration," a legal document that gives the appointee the power needed to settle the estate. But all this is just the beginning.

The Personal Representative's Role In Formal Probate

Personal representatives have several duties and tasks to accomplish under Florida's formal probate process, including:

  • Paying probate filing fees, getting wills admitted to probate
  • Gathering, inventorying and valuing estate assets
  • Protecting and preserving the value of estate assets
  • Searching for and notifying creditors, publishing notice to creditors
  • Settling legitimate creditor claims
  • Filing and paying taxes (income tax for the estate or decedent as well as any estate taxes that may be due)
  • Distributing the remainder of the estate assets in accordance with the decedent's will or Florida's intestacy statutes
  • Preparing interim and final accountings
  • Closing the estate

Yes, it's a lot. The good news is that you are allowed to hire — at the estate's expense — professionals such as an attorney who can help walk you through it all. As a personal representative, you are also entitled to receive three percent of the value of the probate estate as compensation for serving as the executor.

Contact For A Free Consultation

For an experienced lawyer who can help you navigate the probate process, contact our offices online or call us directly at either 850-308-1677 or 866-717-9528 (toll free).

We offer affordable flat fee and hourly rates for probate, as well as free consultations for clients who mention this website.

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