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Orlando Probate & Estate Administration Law Blog

How long does probate last in Florida?

It is a widespread belief that probate essentially takes forever to complete. But is this true? The truth is that the duration of the probate process depends on a variety of factors, including whether there is a will, the complexity of the assets, the number of beneficiaries and whether there are any disputes.

In Florida, there is a creditor claim period of three months, so that is the shortest the process can take. That said, some estates may take several more months or even years to probate. 

3 examples of probate disputes

The probate process can be a trying experience for anyone involved. Not only are you grappling with the grief over your lost loved one, but tensions can build as family members disagree over the handling of the estate.

Probate disputes can drag out the length of time it takes to distribute assets. As arguments wear on, it is easy to become impatient. Here are three of the most common disputes you may encounter as you start the probate process.

What happens if you die before creating a will?

These days, Americans are undeniably busy, and in many cases, this can lead them to “put off” certain important actions, such as creating a will. You would be remiss to delay crafting this critically important document, however, as dying without one could lead to a wide range of issues.

Drafting a will gives you a clear opportunity to make your wishes known and dictate what you would like to happen to your children, finances and so on after your death. If you fail to make one, though, the state of Florida assumes control over these and related issues, and your beneficiaries can be the ones who lose out.

The importance of identifying probate and non-probate assets

Estate planning in Florida is a vital form of financial planning for controlling the transfer of property and wealth within families. In this day and age, one cannot rely on verbal promises when death or incapacitation occurs. Grief has a way of bringing out negative feelings and creating conflict that can negate the final wishes of the deceased. 

When planning your estate, it is important to inventory your tangible and nontangible assets, even those with joint ownership. Failure to title all assets properly, not using the arsenal of estate planning tools available and relying solely on a will can result in some of your property ending up in the hands of the wrong people.

A Florida guardian's most important role

Part of having a good retirement involves creating a good estate plan to divide all of your assets. ABC Action News in Bradenton, Florida, recently ran a story about the importance of having such an estate plan so that people can sell their homes and avoid probate to the best of their abilities. 

Another crucial aspect of any estate plan may involve giving someone guardianship over you. Before someone takes on the responsibility of guardianship, it is critical they understand the most important aspect of the role. This responsibility involves always acting in the best interest of the ward.

Understanding the different types of deeds

Whether you are looking to purchase or sell property, a deed is an essential part of the process. In short, it certifies that the party looking to make a transaction with the property has the right to do so. 

There are different types of deeds, and depending upon what you are looking to do with the property, a certain type of deed could be most beneficial to you. In order to make that determination, it can be helpful to review the main categories for deeds.

Prenuptial agreements and hidden assets

Whether considering a first, second or even a third marriage, prospective marital partners may want to make an estate plan that includes a prenuptial (premarital) agreement stating how to divide assets if they divorce. A premarital agreement is a legal contract. As such, the law protects the rights of both people who make the agreement.

When partners dissolve their marriage without having made a prenuptial agreement, Florida law applies equitable distribution to the couple's assets. The court does not split the property straight down the middle as it would in a community property state; instead, Florida's equitable distribution law will govern fair—but not necessarily equal—division of the partners' assets. Equitable distribution does not mean equal distribution.

Florida probate and the benefits of trust decanting

Probate administration can include a valuable practice called trust decanting. Estates can include irrevocable trusts, which are set up by a grantor to distribute assets to beneficiaries. A trustee administers the trust for the welfare of the beneficiaries.

An irrevocable trust locks in methods of asset investments and distributions according to the terms of the trust. For example, some irrevocable trusts allow a trustee to distribute funds to pay for college tuition or medical care. Often, upon the grantor's death, the trustee often divides the remaining funds and gives them to the beneficiaries.

What is summary administration in Florida probate law?

Most people think of the probate process as being lengthy and complicated. However, under Florida law, there is a simple process that applies to specific situations.

If the estate of a decedent meets certain requirements, it may qualify for a probate process called summary administration.

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