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Gierach and Gierach, P.A. Probating a Will

The Basics of Probating a Will in Florida

Probate procedures in Orlando

Probate administration in Florida enables the court to validate a will and ensure that the testator’s assets are properly distributed. A lawyer from Gierach and Gierach, P.A. can help make the probate process go smoothly for you.

When a Florida resident with a valid will dies, the will must be submitted to the local court for probate. Probate includes the following steps:

  • A family member or the nominated personal representative must present the will to the local court for validation.
  • The local judge examines the will to verify that it was executed properly, satisfying all of the required formalities.
  • The judge determines whether the person appointed as personal representative or executor is prepared to serve.

Summary administration v. full probate administration

The vast majority of estates that Florida probate courts handle pass through one of two administrative tracks: summary administration (sometimes called family administration) and full probate administration. Summary administration is used when a decedent’s homestead and personal property are valued at $75,000 or less.  The entire summary administration process may be completed in a few weeks because no personal representative needs to be appointed.

Full probate administration applies to estates where the decedent’s assets total more than $75,000. The process involves publishing notices to creditors, waiting 90 days for creditors to file claims and then completing the probate process. A personal representative is appointed to locate assets and oversee the probate process. If no claims are filed and no complications arise, the estate can be closed relatively quickly. Usually, the probate process takes at least six months.

Although the summary administration process is quicker, the full probate administration process offers comprehensive coverage.  The summary process uses a petitioner instead of a personal representative. A petitioner is not authorized to locate, collect, manage or dispose of assets in the same manner that an appointed personal representative is. Therefore, in a summary process, the petitioner may not learn about or be notified of assets that exist.

Ancillary probate administration

Many out-of-state residents own property in Florida. When a non-resident passes away, his or her Florida property is subject to Florida law and the authority of local courts where the property is located. Ancillary probate administration is the process by which a non-resident’s Florida property passes to the lawful heirs and beneficiaries.

While probate often proceeds smoothly, it doesn’t do so without careful planning, and that comes with the assistance of able legal counsel. We can ensure that time and resources are not wasted on probate litigation proceedings. Your end-of-life planning, which requires documents such as living wills or healthcare proxies, and the responsible planning of your estate are best done when you are healthy and able to make clear, thoughtful decisions.

If you are confused by probate, call a patient Florida probate lawyer for a free consultation

At Gierach and Gierach, P.A., our probate lawyers handle all types of probate on behalf of our clients in Orlando, Winter Park and throughout Orange County. 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. Call our firm at 407-545-5744 or (844) 431-0813, or contact us online today to schedule your free initial consultation. We also assist people from other states needing legal assistance in Florida.

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