Probate Archives

Does Having a Will Avoid Probate in Florida?

One of the most common misconceptions I run into as an estate planning lawyer is that many people think that if they have a Last Will and Testament in Florida, probate will not be necessary. The reality is that a Will sets forth the deceased person's wishes--such as designating the beneficiaries and the Personal Representative to oversee the estate. In essence, the Will acts as the "roadmap" for the probate court to follow. But the important thing to understand is that the Will is not self-implementing--it is the power given by the probate court that implements the wishes set forth in the Will.

What are Letters of Administration and How Do I Get Them?

Quite commonly, after their loved one has died clients come to us as estate attorneys and they tell us that a bank or other financial institution is asking for "Letters of Administration." When that happens, the client will ask us how do they get such Letters. 

What is Ancillary Probate Administration in Florida?

In Florida, it is not uncommon for persons to own real property or other assets in the state while not being residents of the state. Each Winter, residents of northern states travel to their Florida properties to spend the cold months in Florida's warm weather. Many of these persons own homes in both their home state and in Florida. So what happens if these residents of other states die and still own Florida real property? Often the result is that two probate administration proceedings will need to be opened. The probate of the resident state is commonly referred to as the "domiciliary probate" and the probate in Florida would then be the "ancillary probate."

In Florida, is the original Will needed for Probate?

As estate attorneys, we often encounter a situation where a person is deceased and the original of their Last Will and Testament cannot be found. Often, the family suspects that the original has been lost or misplaced--not that it was intentionally destroyed by the decedent before death. Is the fact that the orignal of the Will cannot be found fatal to being able to probate the Will? The answer is often "no."  

Resolving Creditor Claims in Florida Probate

When a Florida resident dies and owes creditors (such a credit card balances or medical bills), Florida probate procedures establish a mechanism to resolve those creditor claims. The process starts by having the Personal Representative of the estate sign a document called a "Notice to Creditors." The Notice informs creditors of the pendency of the probate estate and of the deadline for filing a creditor claim in the probate.  

Proving Undue Influence in Florida Will Contests

A "Will contest" is an action to challenge the valuidity of a Last Will and Testament. In Florida, perhaps the most common basis for challenging a Will is grounded on allegations of "undue Influence." Undue influence, such as would void a Will, has been defined to include over persuasion, coercion, or force that destroys or hampers the free agency and will power of the person making the Will.

Does Life Insurance Go Through Probate?

As a probate and estate attorney, I'm often asked whether life insurance goes through or is subject to probate. The answer is usually "no." Life insurance is one of those assets that does not normally go through probate. This is due to the fact that the policy names a beneficiary. As a result, at the death of the insured, the death benefits are paid to the beneficiary directly, not to the estate. 

In Florida, Can I Leave My Estate To Whomever I Choose?

As an estate planning lawyer in Florida, I'm often asked by clients if they can leave their estate to whomever they choose. For the most part, a person can leave his or her estate to whomever they choose but there are some exceptions. 

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