Probate Law in St. Augustine, FL

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When you lose a loved one, it can be hard to focus on things of the law while you’re still in a fog of grief. However, in most cases in Florida, a probate filing is necessary to distribute the assets of any person who has passed away.

We understand that the loss of a loved one is a grieving process that’s not easy to overcome. As local estate and probate attorneys, we strive to do everything within our power to take the stress off of you and provide a streamlined process after the loss of a loved one.

Our experienced St. Augustine and Jacksonville estate attorneys will guide you through the different types of probates, always working with your best interests in mind.

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How Can Our Probate Lawyers in St. Augustine Help You?

If you’re not sure whether your probate will require an attorney, one of our St. Augustine probate attorneys can talk about that with you. We frequently help clients with probate law throughout Northeast Florida, including those in: St. Augustine, Jacksonville, Palm Coast, Ponte Vedra, Daytona Beach, Palatka, Saint Johns County, Putnam County, Duval County, Volusia County

No matter your needs, bring them to our team of experienced probate law attorneys. We fully understand Florida law and will effectively apply it to your specific situation.

When Do You Need a Probate Attorney?

Probate is the formal term for the process of distributing an individual’s assets when they pass away, with or without a will. Without special trust planning, probate action will be necessary for the beneficiaries to gain access to the following assets:

After the court establishes that a valid will exists, the court will admit the decedent’s will to probate, and order that the assets be distributed in accordance with the provisions in the will.

FAQs About Probate Law in St. Augustine, FL

We believe you and your family deserve peace of mind about the future, and our estate planning services are accessible at reasonable, flat-rate prices. In most cases, your estate planning lawyer will provide the following documents to you as part of your estate plan:

Probate is the process of distinguishing and distributing assets of the decedent, which applies to cases in which the decedent passed away with or without a will. If a will does exist, the probate process will ensure the will is valid. There are two primary types of probate: Formal Probate Administration (estates over $75,000) and Summary Probate Administration (estates $75,000 and under).

If the estate involves only personal property, there are alternative options, such as a non-court supervised administration, which is known as Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration. However, this route is very uncommon and not regularly used.

In most Florida probates, the use of a Florida probate lawyer is required by Florida law.

Any category of probate administration pertains to the assets the decedent left behind, whether the assets were addressed in a will or not.

Assets can be either under the sole name of the decedent, or jointly owned property. Persons specifically listed in the will who are entitled to assets are known as beneficiaries. Beneficiaries eventually receive the assets the decedent left for them after paying certain debts (if any).

Specific types of assets include:

  • Non-homestead real estate properties labeled in the decedent’s name (depends on the title on deed)
  • Bank accounts, or any kind of investment account (if previously owned solely by the decedent with no beneficiary)
  • Personal property, such as jewelry and household furnishings

In general, it’s always recommended to file a probate action because the filing of a probate action can toll how long certain creditors of the estate have to make claims on the assets of the estate.

Absent concern about creditors, certain assets can pass outside of probate, including:

  • Jointly titled real estate
  • Assets held in a living trust
  • Life insurance policies with a living beneficiary
  • O.D (payable on death) bank accounts with a living beneficiary
  • Co-owned bank accounts
  • If the decedent owned real estate, that becomes a probate asset and probate action will need to be filed in the county

In most cases, the filing of a probate is required by Florida law if probate assets exist, and any illegal transfer can be set aside by the probate court.

Probate is necessary to distribute assets listed within a will to their rightful beneficiaries.
The will must be declared as valid before anyone can receive any kind of asset.

The probate process is essential to concluding the decedent’s financial matters after their death and assures that all creditors are paid throughout the administration of the decedent’s estate.

If the decedent didn’t leave a valid will or any will at all, then that decedent identifies as an intestate person. In this situation, probate administration is required to transfer ownership of the decedent’s assets to any individual who’s an entitled beneficiary.

If the decedent passed without a will, their estate will be distributed to their proper heirs (normally family members) according to the order of antecedence. There are exceptions under Florida law, however, that give spouses and minor children a special interest in homestead property, exempt personal property, and certain statutory allowances.

Initially, a probate must be open for a three-month creditor claim period, which even applies to the most commonly used routes of probate administration. So the length of the probate administration process usually depends on the aspects of the case. The length of probate administration also corresponds to the type of administration being used such as formal probate, summary probate, disposition without administration, or another alternative option. In some cases, where a decedent died two or more years ago, the probate process can be significantly shorter, sometimes lasting less than a month in small estates.

In the state of Florida, the court will appoint the PR designated in the decedent’s will, or a close family member if no one is designated PR, or if there is not a will.

Personal representatives usually range from family members to attorneys and trust companies, but it depends on the case itself.

A judge appoints a PR to administer the decedent’s probate estate. The term “Personal Representative” is used in the state of Florida rather than other commonly used terms such as “Executor” or “Administrator.” It’s an obligation of the personal representative appointed to administer the probate estate pursuant to Florida Law, and pursuant to the decedent’s will.

These are the legal duties that must be fulfilled by the PR:

  • File any tax returns or pay taxes that are properly due
  • Object to improper claims
  • Identify and distribute probate assets to all entitled beneficiaries
  • Pay statutory amounts to the decedent’s surviving spouse or family
  • Employ professionals to assist in the probate administration process
  • Publish a “notice to creditors” in the newspaper to give notice to potential claimants

If you have any additional questions about probate law in St. Augustine, FL, schedule a free consultation today!