Probate & Trust Administration
What is Probate?
Probate is the court-supervised process of identifying and collecting an individual’s assets after his or her death, paying his or her debts, and distributing the remainder of the assets to the beneficiaries. If the individual has a Will, the assets will be distributed in accordance with the terms of the will, or if the individual died without a will, the assets will be distributed to his or her family members according to Florida law. Probate requires timely filings, accountings, and other documents to be prepared and filed in court. Failure to follow the Florida Probate Code can expose the personal representative to liability.
Under Florida law, an attorney is required when administering an estate. Speaking with an experienced Florida probate attorney is imperative in order to ensure that the estate is administered correctly.
We Represent Personal Representatives Throughout Florida
If you have been appointed as the Personal Representative (also known as the Executor) of a Florida resident’s Estate, then you are required to administer the estate in accordance with Florida law. The attorneys and staff of DeBellis Law, P.A. will do all of the heavy lifting by preparing necessary court filings, contacting beneficiaries, coordinating payment of creditors and debts, and making sure that court documents are filed timely. We understand that this is a big responsibility and our goal is to make it as easy as possible as you mourn the loss of your loved one.
The personal representative has many responsibilities, including:
• Identifying and gathering probate assets
• Finding and notifying creditors of their time to file claims against the estate
• Publishing notices to creditors and for the administration of the estate
• Providing notice to other beneficiaries of the estate
• Filing tax returns and paying taxes when due
• Hiring professionals to assist with administrating the estate, such as attorneys and accountants
• Paying claims, statutory fees, and expenses of the estate
• Preparing accountings
• Distributing assets to beneficiaries in accordance with the will or Florida law
Probate is very complicated and can be stressful on family members due to court requirements and tensions that may arise. Seeking the advice of an experienced attorney is always recommended, even if you think the estate is not complicated. The attorneys and staff of DeBellis Law, P.A. specialize in representing Personal Representatives throughout the probate process and ensuring that the estate administration goes smoothly. Contact us today to find out how our firm can help you with Florida probate estate administration.
With proper estate planning, DeBellis Law, P.A. can assist you in putting an estate plan in place so that your family and loved ones can avoid the probate process after your demise.
Our experienced Florida Trust Administration lawyers provide legal guidance to successor trustees who step in as trustee after the trust creator dies or becomes incapacitated. If the trust was properly drafted and fully funded before death, a probate will not be required. Nonetheless, the successor trustee must take certain steps to administer the Trust. These steps include contacting beneficiaries and keeping them informed, marshalling and investing the trust-maker's assets, notifying potential creditors, paying debts, filing tax returns, and distributing assets and/or income to beneficiaries in conformity with the Trust provisions. Our experienced attorneys will assist successor trustees who lack the time, resources, or knowledge to personally deal with the complexities of Trust administration.
If you are a successor trustee, please call our office and we will gladly schedule a consultation, whether or not our office has drafted the original Trust. We can help explain your duties to you and/or relieve you of duties you do not wish to handle yourself.
Family members commonly believe that their deceased loved one properly planned because the decedent had a Last Will, created and funded a Trust, or designated certain individuals as beneficiaries. Unfortunately, if documents were not drafted properly, or an estate plan was not fully implemented, sometimes these plans can actually have a negative impact on the family with regard to estate taxes, and/or Medicaid planning strategies for the surviving spouse. If this occurs, our experienced attorneys can advise you about post-mortem planning techniques that may rectify the situation and create more favorable outcomes for surviving family members.