Probate Archives

In Florida, does a surviving spouse have a right to inherit from their deceased spouse?

As an estate planning lawyer, I sometimes have a client ask whether they are entitled to inherit from their spouse. In other words, can their spouse cut them out of an inheritance? For the most part, the answer is that one spouse cannot be "written out" altogether from their spouse's estate. Unless there's a Pre-Nuptial Agreement in place, the surviving spouse has certain rights that arise as a matter of Florida law.

Contesting a Will or Trust as a Result of Undue Influence in Florida

In Florida, a Last Will & Testament or a Trust can be contested for a number of reasons, including fraud, duress and undue influence. In the case of undue influence, if a substantial beneficiary under a Will or Trust occupies a confidential relationship with the person who executed the instrument and is active in procuring the contested Will or Trust, a presumption of undue influence arises. So what does it mean that a person is active in procuring?

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.  

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