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Formal Administration may be necessary for many reasons, including:
Size of the Estate, Nature of Assets which must be conveyed,
Amount of Beneficiaries, Disagreements by Beneficiaries, Civil Claims
by the Estate.
You must use and Attorney for the Administration of an Estate, however the Attorney may be paid using the Estate Money. In your initial consultation with a Probate Lawyer, you will discuss whether a formal administration is necessary and how the Attorney's Fee will be paid. Most attorney's fees are set at a fixed price for Formal Administration or based on a Percentage of the Estate. You should feel free to shop around or to negotiate a price with you attorney, but you should be sure the Estate Attorney you use does have experience with Formal Administrations. Using and attorney without experience often leads to unnecessary delays and possible loss of assets of the Estate.
If the estate doesn’t qualify for a simpler method of administration, formal probate may be necessary. These proceedings begin when the executor nominated in the will, or another interested party, asks the circuit court to be appointed as personal representative of the estate.
Generally, the probate proceeding takes place in the county where the deceased person was living at the time of death Beneficiaries and heirs (people who would inherit in the absence of a valid will) are given notice, so they have a chance to object.
The court issues a document called Letters of Administration, which gives the personal representative authority to settle the estate. If there’s a will, it must be filed with the court and proven valid. This may be done by having the witnesses to the will give statements, under oath, about its validity. Or, if the will is “self-proving,” it’s enough to submit the document itself. Under Florida law, a will is self-proving if the witnesses, when they watched the will-maker sign the will, signed a statement in front of a notary public. (Fla. Stat. Ann. § 733.201.)
Under the court’s supervision, the personal representative gathers and inventories assets, pays debts and taxes, and (eventually) distributes what’s left to the people who inherit it. The personal representative must submit a final accounting to the court, showing what the estate contained, how the assets have been managed, and the plan for distributing them to beneficiaries. Anyone who objects to the accounting can object in court.
After everything has been distributed, the personal representative files evidence (receipts) with the court, and asks that the estate be closed. The court issues an order closing the estate and relieving the personal representative of further responsibilities. Typically, the whole process takes six months to a year.