Probate

Experienced Probate Lawyers in Tampa and six west central counties around Tampa Bay

Chadwick and Associates, Probate attorneys in Tampa Bay, including Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando, Polk, Manatee counties in west central Florida.

If you are like most people you pay no attention until one day you’re faced with the inevitable – you need a Probate attorney. Surprise!

What is Probate?

Though probate laws vary in each state, Probate Law in Florida is the legal process of determining the value of estate assets left by a deceased person, and resolving all claims to the assets as dictated by a valid Will. This process involves validating a Will and interpreting the intent and instructions contained within the Will.

This, of course, raises many of your valid questions:

  • What if I have no Will?
  • What if my Will is contested?
  • What if I leave no assets?
  • Who administers my assets?
  • Is an attorney needed?

Probate Law in Florida

To begin, many assets of the deceased person may be able to go to their new owner without probate court approval – such as a jointly held residence, assets designated to a beneficiary, or assets held in a living trust. These are the most common.

Florida Probate Law has three administrative options, from the simplest and least expensive to the most complicated and costly:

  • No probate – often known as Disposition without Administration (a non-court supervision of personal property). When the deceased leaves very little, this option allows reimbursement to the person who paid for the final medical expenses or funeral.
  • Summary Administration – can be a probate shortcut if the death occurred more than two years ago, or if the value of the Florida probate estate is not more than $75,000.
  • Formal Administration – often called “regular” probate for estates that do not quality for a simpler method of administration. This usually takes place in the county of the deceased’s residence at passing. The presence or absence of a valid Will determines the procedure of the court.

Before proceeding, this is a good time to stress the importance of having a will – up to date, with all of your intentions clearly stated. This is the best thing you can do for your loved ones while you are living. Without this, probate can become a family catastrophe.

You may start with a brief toll-free phone call to Chadwick and Associates, for a no-obligation visit. 877-264-1515.

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What are Probate Assets?

Probate administration only applies to probate assets – those assets you own solely in your own name, or assets you have with a co-owner, but lack a provision for automatic succession of ownership at death.

This might include a bank account, investment account, life insurance policy, individual retirement account, real estate, or anything of monetary value.

Why Probate is Necessary

Probate is necessary to:

  • Pass ownership of the deceased’s probate assets to beneficiaries. This applies if the deceased has no Will or if a valid Will is not admitted to probate in the court.
  • Wind up the deceased’s financial affairs. Administration of the estate ensures that the deceased’s creditors are correctly paid.

Do you Need an Attorney to go through Probate?

Florida law requires an attorney in formal probate proceeding unless the personal representative is the sole interested party. Realistically, most non-lawyers have difficulty in knowing how to proceed without an attorney.

Books for guiding non-lawyers through the probate process are available for those who choose to educate themselves.

How long does the Probate Process take?

Summary Administrations average 4-8 weeks.

Formal Administrations, without estate taxes due, typically take 4-6 months.

Since Probate laws and your personal status change over time, it is always best to consult an attorney about your legal probate responsibilities and rights. Call the experienced Tampa Bay probate attorneys at Chadwick and Associates today, 877-264-1515.