Formal Probate Administration with McGee Law

Probate is the legal process of executing someone’s will and settling their estate. Most estates go through formal administration, which is the process of executing someone’s will (if there is one) and distributing assets to named beneficiaries. During formal administration, the will is validated, the estate is valued, creditors make claims against the estate, and assets are distributed to beneficiaries. Our Palm Coast estate planning lawyers can help you determine which form of administration best suits your loved one’s estate. Florida law requires that personal representatives work with a Florida estate planning attorney for estates going through probate. Learn more about the formal administration process of probate here. 

What is Formal Administration? 

Formal estate administration is for large estates (those with probatable assets valuing over $75,000) or when creditors can make claims against the estate to settle a debt. Formal administration is the most common form of probate. During formal administration, the probate court validates the decedent’s will, creditors make claims against the estate, the estate is valued, and assets are distributed to beneficiaries.  

How Does an Estate Qualify for Formal Administration? 

Most estates will need to go through formal administration. Formal administration is necessary for estates with probatable assets valued at least $75,000 and can have creditors make claims against the estate for payment. 

How Formal Administration Works in Florida

Here is how formal administration works in Florida: 

Petition 

 Formal administration begins with petitioning the probate court in the county where the decedent lived. You can file for formal administration at any time, but the will must be deposited with the probate court within ten days of the person’s passing. Documentation, such as the will and the death certificate, will be presented to the probate court to open probate proceedings officially.

 

Will Validation 

If the decedent has a will, the document will be submitted to the probate court and reviewed for validity. If there is no will, the estate will be considered “intestate” and follow Florida’s intestate laws and the line of succession to distribute assets.  

Appointment and Notification

Beneficiaries listed in the will or those in the intestate line of succession are notified that the estate has entered probate. The judge will review the petition and appoint a personal representative to help facilitate the probate process. The personal representative will also inform potential creditors who may have a claim against the decedent’s estate to settle a debt. A formal notification process must be followed, as detailed in Florida Statute 733.2121

Estate Valuation

An estate bank account will be created, and the estate’s value will be assessed. Funds from any sold or liquidated assets will go into this account, which will be used to pay off any creditor claims.

Address Creditor Claims

Creditors have 90 days after receiving formal notice to make claims against the estate. These claims are assessed for validity. Then, legitimate claims are paid from funds in the estate bank account.

Final Accounting

Before probate can be concluded, you must create a document showing all the transactions that occurred in the estate during probate proceedings. Final accounting must include “all cash and property transactions” since the beginning of probate, according to Florida Probate Rule 5.346. This document should include:

  • The name and value of the estate assets.
  • Income the decedent received for assets (such as rental properties).
  • Payments made through the estate bank account or other means related to the decedent’s estate.
  • The value of assets sold during probate. 

This document must be submitted to the probate court and delivered to interested parties and beneficiaries. 

Petition of Discharge 

Once all creditor claims have been paid and final accounting has occurred, beneficiaries can receive the remaining assets as listed in the will. Once assets are distributed, your attorney will file a petition of discharge to conclude the probate process.

How Long Does Formal Administration Take? 

Formal administration can take anywhere from six months to a year to complete. It could be even longer if the estate is large, complex, or contested. 

What Happens if You Die Without a Will? 

If the decedent passes away without a will, the estate is called “intestate.” The decedent’s belongings and assets will be distributed to beneficiaries based on Florida’s intestate laws and the line of succession. This line of succession includes a surviving spouse, children, parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews. 

Estate Administration with McGee Law, PLLC 

Probate can be an overwhelming and complex experience, especially during a highly emotional time while grieving the loss of a loved one. Let our estate planning lawyers in Palm Coast help you navigate the process. Book your free consultation here so we can help you through the formal administration process. 

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