Orlando, Florida Attorneys Assist with Wills and Probate
Drafting, executing and submitting your valid will for probate
Wills are critical documents that detail how your assets are to be distributed upon your death. Wills must include all assets and property for them to be considered valid. If one passes on without a legally valid will in place, he or she is said to have died intestate, and the Florida courts decide how to distribute the estate. Gierach and Gierach, P.A., an experienced will and estate planning law firm that serves clients in Kissimmee, Apopka, Sanford and throughout Florida, can ensure that your loved ones are protected in the way you deem appropriate. We accomplish this by creating a legally sound will that stands the test of probate.
Our law firm's location in central Florida makes us ideally suited for those whose decedents resided in Florida while they do not. In these cases, the decedent's family may be unable to attend the court appearances and legal meetings necessary to move a will through the probate process. Our attorneys understand that you may not be available, so we assume control of the probate process, keeping you informed on all developments and on any next steps.
Drafting a valid will
When we draft or modify a will on your behalf, one of our Orlando wills lawyers thoroughly reviews your assets and takes the time to understand your specific objectives to ensure the will articulates your wishes and is legally sound. Through a will, you determine how your assets should be distributed to your beneficiaries, and you can also establish a guardianship for minor children.
Should you die without a will, your loved ones may be left wondering what you intended and how to fulfill your wishes. And even those who have left wills may have them contested. We routinely represent clients on both sides of will contests, so we appreciate how important good planning is to prevent disgruntled relatives from contesting a will.
The probate process
The term “probate” derives from the Latin word probare, which means to test or find good. During probate, the court examines a will to determine whether it is good, or legally valid. When probating a will, our Orlando probate attorney inventories all your assets, pays debts owed by the estate and distribute the remaining assets to beneficiaries. Florida probate law states that the only assets that must go through probate are assets owned solely in your name at the time of death. Assets with designated beneficiaries, such as life insurance or retirement accounts, are not probate assets. Property owned through joint tenancy with survivorship such as a house or joint bank accounts are not probate assets. The types of assets that go through probate include assets solely in your name, such as:
Effective estate planning involves properly titling your assets so that they pass most efficiently to your heirs. You may hear a lot of talk about living trusts used to avoid probate entirely. We do not handle these trusts. But don't confuse them with living wills, which are advance directives and an important part of any estate plan.
Types of probate
Types of probate in Florida include:
- Formal administration — Estates with a net value of more than $75,000 and where the decedent's death occurred within the past two years must use formal administration. Courts only consider assets solely in the decedent's name when determining an estate’s net value. Florida statutes prohibit anyone from bringing a claim against the estate two years after the decedent’s death.
- Summary administration — Estates where the decedent dies with no more than $35,000 in assets, or the decedent has been dead for four years and died with no more than $100,000 in assets, may use summary administration.
- Ancillary probate — Ancillary probate is for Florida real estate owned by a decedent who is not a Florida resident.
When you have lost a loved one, the last thing you want to deal with is paperwork and legalities. Our law firm helps you through the technicalities and court requirements so you can focus on recovering from your personal loss.
Call our central Florida wills and probate attorneys
At Gierach and Gierach, P.A., we handle all types of wills and probate matters. Serving Kissimmee, Apopka, Sanford and all of Florida, we meet you where you need us. If a loved one has passed, and you'd like advice on settling the estate with or without a will, you can rely on our decades of experience in probate law. We also assist people from other states needing legal assistance in Florida. Call our Orange County law firm at 407-545-5744 or (844) 431-0813, or contact us online today to schedule your free initial consultation.