When a loved one passes away, the initial focus is on the grieving process and remembrance of that person in the hearts and minds of those he or she touched while alive. At the same time, it’s important not to overlook the pressing legal and financial matters left in the wake of his or her absence.
Probate is the legal process for allocating assets of a deceased person (“decedent”) to his or her beneficiaries. In most circumstances, if a decedent had assets, a probate is usually necessary to distribute the assets to the beneficiaries. The exception to that is if the decedent had a trust, and all his or her assets were in the trust. So why have a will? When a decedent has a will, the will dictates who the beneficiaries are whereas when a decedent does not have a will, Florida Intestate Statues dictate who the beneficiaries are.
Probate can be a confusing and overwhelming endeavor, however, with the assistance of a qualified Daytona Beach probate lawyer, the process can be taken one step at a time and be much less confusing and overwhelming. Here’s what you should know about the process:
There Are Many Misconceptions
Most people don’t realize it, but most of the court records in a probate are a matter of public record. However, this doesn’t mean personal details and information of the private life of the decedent will be supplied to the news media and/or anyone who asks.
There is also a common misconception that debts and taxes disappear after death. This is not the case. Assets owned by the decedent at the time of his or her death are available to be used for payment of outstanding debts and taxes unless those particular assets are exempt.
Some people think probate is a quick and easy process. Instead—due to waiting periods—it can take up to a year. Some complex probates can take longer. A qualified probate attorney in Daytona can work with you to ensure your loved one’s affairs are handled in an expedient manner.
The Process is Straight-Forward
The formal probate process starts by officially requesting the court to appoint someone as personal representative to the estate of the decedent by filing a Petition for Administration. Some of the other requirements are as follows:
- publishing a Notice to Creditors
- contacting beneficiaries and heirs (as required by the court)
- posting bond (if the Court requires a bond)
- filing other required documents
- and more
Personal Representatives are also tasked with keeping the estate property safe. This includes preparing a list of the decedent’s assets, which is called an Inventory. Appraisal of items may be necessary during this process.
Assistance is Available
As mentioned, there are many misconceptions, myths, and rumors about the probate process. In addition, the death of a loved one is a traumatic and emotionally-draining experience. That’s why it’s important to work with a skilled and knowledgeable Daytona Beach probate attorney who will save you time, turmoil, frustration, and expenses.
If you are looking for probate lawyers in Daytona Beach, Ormond Beach, DeLand and Palm Coast, please contact Wendy A. Mara of Mara Law, P.A. at 386-672-8081.