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Probate is a legal process through which the assets of a deceased person are distributed to the heirs or beneficiaries. The Court oversees the estate to make sure debts are disposed of and proper distribution is made.
A will is a document executed by a person which disposes of his/her property after death. It generally names a personal representative to administer the estate. The custodian of the will must deposit the original will with the Clerk of the Circuit Court, within 10 days after receiving information that the person is deceased. The custodian should supply the person's date of death or the person's social security number to the Clerk upon deposit of the will, if this information is available.
Florida Rules of Probate Procedure 5.030 says:
(a) Required; Exception. Every guardian and every personal representative, unless the personal representative remains the sole interested person, shall be represented by an attorney admitted to practice in Florida. A guardian or personal representative who is an attorney admitted to practice in Florida may represent himself or herself as guardian or personal representative.
There are 3 basic types of proceedings for administering the decedent's estate:
The property will be distributed in accordance with Florida law.
It will be necessary for an attorney to petition the Court to appoint a personal representative to administer the estate.
Probate proceedings are initiated with the filing of a Petition by an interested person asking to be appointed personal representative and/or distribute property depending on size and complexity of property. The Petition is normally prepared by an attorney. The appointed person will be responsible for the estate until all bills are paid and the balance of the estate is distributed to the rightful beneficiaries.
The Court will enter an Order either allowing or disallowing the release of the assets. Two certified copies of the Order Granting Disposition or Order Denying is then mailed to the petitioner.
Please refer to Florida Statute 735.301 to determine if you are eligible for this type of process. This form may not be used when real property is involved. If you are unsure as to whether this process applies to your situation, you may wish to contact an attorney.
The required forms and documentation for a Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration are as follows:
The filing fee is due at the time the Petition is filed. There is also a charge for one certified copy of the Order for Payment of Funds which is generally required by the institution holding the assets. If the judge approves the petition, an Order for Payment of Funds will be entered by the probate court which directs that the assets in question be distributed as outlined in the petition.
Carefully review the letter to ensure all requested documents are filed in the case. Failure to provide all requested documents will result in delaying the outcome of the case.
Go to www.circuit5.org and follow these steps to schedule a status hearing with Judge Thomas: