Probate is a court-supervised process for finding and gathering the assets of a deceased person, paying any debts, distributing the remaining assets to beneficiaries, and winding up his or her affairs.
If the decedent had a will, it must be deposited with the clerk of the circuit court within 10 days of death. However, the probate process doesn’t begin until a petition is filed, and the decedent’s will has no legal effect until it is admitted to probate by the court. Whether or not there was a will, probate is required to pass ownership of the decedent’s assets to the persons who are entitled to receive them.
A personal representative, known elsewhere as “executor,” is appointed by the judge to administer the decedent’s probate estate. Serving as personal representative is a responsible job, and mismanagement of the estate can result in personal liability to the beneficiaries. For this reason, it’s important to consult a probate attorney who can provide legal advice to the personal representative and represent him or her throughout the estate proceedings.
Contact McDannold Law to learn more about the probate process.
If you own a home in Florida, you’re probably familiar with the homestead tax exemption that can reduce its assessed value by up to $50,000. You may not realize, however, that Florida’s Constitution provides additional protections for homestead property, and it’s important to understand how these protections affect your estate planning. First, if the owner of the homestead property dies leaving a spouse or a minor child, the owner cannot give the property as a gift in his or her will. An exception allows the homestead to be gifted to the spouse, but only if the owner is not survived by a minor child. Second, the homestead property cannot be forcibly sold to pay the debts of the owner, and the protection from such debts descends to the heirs of the owner. This protection does not apply to mortgages or other liens attached to the homestead property itself. Contact McDannold Law for a free consultation to learn how these important laws may impact your estate plan.