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Going Through Probate? Get Legal Guidance From Steven Friedman

Probate Lawyer in Pembroke Pines

Pembroke Pines Estate Planning Attorney Explains Probate

Probate is a court process designed to ensure that a decedent's assets are distributed to the deceased's loved ones if the deceased has a will or to the deceased's "heirs at law" if the deceased does not have a will. In a probate proceeding, the court supervises the administration and distribution of the assets and makes sure that all creditors are paid before distributions to beneficiaries can be made. The court will also determine whether a will is valid and then oversee to ensure that the will maker's intent is carried out. In other words, to ensure that the assets are gathered up, that the just debts are paid and the balance is distributed to the will beneficiaries / heirs.

When a person dies without a will (intestate), the laws of Florida dictate who will benefit from the decedent's estate. Many people have a misconception that if they do not have a will, then the state will get their money and property. That is not the case. The laws that apply to decedents assets when there is no will generally require that the assets are to be distributed to the decedent's closest relatives such as parents, spouses and children. The cost of probating an estate varies according to the size and complexity of the estate, the efficiency of the will planning, and whether there will be a will contest or contested creditor claims filed during the course of the probate process.

While probate is not the horror that many portray it to be, it can become an expensive and long, drawn-out process. Therefore, it is equally important to consider estate planning such as a living trust while you are still alive and well in order to avoid the need for probate upon your death. As a Pembroke Pines probate lawyer, I can help you achieve your probate needs and goals. Contact my firm today!

Questions about probate? Read the Probate FAQ page to learn more and then contact my office for a consultation.

Functions of Probate

The purpose of probate is to tie up any lose ends after someone dies. This typically includes collecting the decedent's assets, paying off their debts, paying any relevant taxes, liquidating liabilities, and distributing their property to their heirs. Probate proceedings are generally held in the state where the decedent lived just prior to their time of death; however, if they owned real estate property in another state, those assets must be probated in that state.

The technical aspects of probate administration include but are not limited to:

  • Notifying creditors
  • Real estate may need to be sold to pay debts or to correct the distribution of assets
  • Prior to distribution of assets, the costs of administration including income tax on interest and property tax will be deducted
  • Providing the estate exceeds a certain threshold, estate taxes, gift taxes or inheritance tax will need to be considered where applicable
  • Assets may need to be transferred from the diseased to his or her beneficiaries

Challenges with Probate

The probate process can be a sensitive issue for many people, and this goes for executors, personal representatives and beneficiaries alike. One of the parties may challenge one or more aspects of the probate administration, such as challenging the validity of the will, otherwise known as a will contest, or someone may challenge the status of the personal representative. There can be a challenge as to the identity of the heirs, or a challenge about how the personal representative is administering the estate. There can even be paternity issues with intestate estates, and even biological heirs can be denied their inheritance rights while non-biological heirs are granted inheritance rights.

Being a personal representative is a huge responsibility, and the personal representative must abide by their fiduciary duties, such as their duty to treat all beneficiaries equally and to keep the money in an interest bearing account. If one does not abide by their fiduciary duties, then the heirs may petition for that person's removal and hold them legally liable for any financial harm imposed upon the estate.

Let a Pembroke Pines probate attorney guide you through
the process.

As the founder of the Law Office of Steven Friedman, I am a Pembroke Pines probate attorney with over 30 years of experience handling probate and probate litigation. Probate is not always easy and in many cases the process is stalled when conflict arises between the personal representative and the beneficiaries or between the beneficiaries themselves.

When you are headed towards troubled waters, whether in the capacity as an executor or a beneficiary, it's vital that you enlist the services of a qualified probate attorney who can protect your best interests. I am well-versed in all aspects of Florida State laws as they pertain to probate and probate court, and I can guide you every step of the way. Contact my firm today to get started with your free consultation!

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