Q: What is probate?

A: Probate is a latin word meaning “to prove” and it is a judicial procedure through which the testamentary document is established to be a valid will (if applicable), identifying assets and liabilities of the estate, and distribution of the assets after the payment of creditors. For more information on probate, click here.

Q: Are there different types of probate?

A: Yes, please click here for more information on the different types of probate here in the State of Florida.

A mature woman looking at a tablet as she learns about probate

Q: Should I hire an attorney for probate?

A: Yes, it is highly recommended that you hire an attorney to go through the probate process for you. We do this for a living and thus know how to maximize your returns and reduce the costs associated with probate. It can be very complicated and if things are not done correctly, a significant delay can occur, creditors might get more than their fair share, or even result in assets being left out of the proceeding. 

Q: Can I avoid probate?

A: Yes. Probate can be avoided in a few different ways such as transferring assets into trusts, establishing joint tenancy, designating beneficiaries, and other estate planning tools. To discover which ways to avoid probate are best for you and your family, you should meet with an estate planning attorney to discuss your individual assets and needs.

Q: How long does Probate take?

A: This can vary from a couple of weeks to a couple of years based on a wide range of variables, including, but not limited to disagreements among beneficiaries, lack of cooperation among beneficiaries, disputes concerning the legitimacy of a will, creditors of the estate, and complexity of the types of assets owned by the estate to name a few.

Q: What documents or information do I need to collect for my probate attorney?

A: A certified copy of the short version of the death certificate, a list of assets and creditors of the estate, names and contact information of the estate beneficiaries, any estate planning documents possessed by the decedent at the time of their passing, and any other information you feel would be pertinent to the probate administration process. 

Q: Can a person change or revoke their Last Will and Testament?

A: Yes, a person can change and revoke their will at any time up to the moment of their passing. A codicil, which is an amendment to your existing will, can be used to change your will. It must be drafted and executed with the same legal formalities as a will. Additionally, if you create a legally valid will and execute it properly, it will automatically revoke your old one. The last valid will is the one that is used to distribute your assets upon your death. 

Q: What is the difference between a Last Will and Testament and Living Will?

A: A living will and a Last Will and Testament differ in that the living will is not applicable after one’s death and only pertains to medical care during one’s lifetime. A will is only legally enforceable after the death of its creator and it typically contains specific information relating to property and guardianship.

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