Probate FAQs

Florida Probate Frequently Asked Questions

How long does probate take?

Because of several types of paperwork and claims that must be filed, the Florida probate process typically takes about six to eight months.

Do I need a lawyer for Florida probate?

Yes. In most probate cases, you will need an attorney. Even if you are not required to hire an attorney for probate, a Gainesville, FL probate lawyer will certainly make the process easier. The Florida probate administration process is complex and lengthy. Some even describe it as frustrating. Relying on a probate attorney to handle the matters of the estate will make the process go smoothly and allow your family to focus on properly grieving.

Why can’t I just record the Will to change the title to my parent’s property in Florida?

This is not possible because it will be challenging for the title insurers to verify that the will is valid and is the last governing record of the deceased individual. It may also be difficult for the property to pass according to the will. The type of property and applicable creditors to the estate will play a role.

Can an estate be administered with a missing heir?

Yes. A missing heir (someone whose name is provided in a will as a beneficiary of a deceased individual’s assets, but is unable to be located) will not make the administration of a deceased individual’s estate impossible. The process can still be completed with the help of probate attorneys in Gainesville. In most cases, the missing heir’s share will be registered with a court of law.

Do all estates in Florida have to go through "full" probate?

No. Depending on the size of the property and the number of years that an individual has been deceased, summary probate administration may be possible. This process is cheaper and faster than the formal probate administration process.

After a property owner dies, can his or her power of attorney (POA) be used?

No. The property owner’s power of attorney (POA) only has the power to handle assets and other information when an individual is alive and unable to perform duties on his/her own. Once a property owner dies, his/her POA cannot be used. All of the rights and responsibilities therein will also conclude.

Is summary administration always the better way when available?

Not always. While summary administration is more affordable and faster than formal probate administration, there are specific conditions that make summary administration possible. If these factors do not exist, the summary administration process may become complicated or prolonged.

Further, there are some circumstances that the summary administration process cannot accommodate. When there is a missing heir, for example, the process of summary administration cannot move forward.

If you are unsure if you should opt for formal or summary probate administration, visit our Florida probate law firm.

Is it ever "too late" to start probate?

No. Generally, the probate process can begin at anytime following a property owner’s death. Even if five, ten, twenty or thirty years elapse, a deceased person’s estate can be distributed.

However, the later that you wait to handle your loved one’s estate, the more complex or lengthy the process may be. For example, if initial heirs have children or become missing, the probate process will require several steps.

Do I need to personally appear in Florida to probate an estate?

Not at all. Florida probate can be done electronically via email, phone, and fax. You may only be required to appear in Florida if there are disputes that require a court hearing.

Does Florida collect an estate tax?


Do beneficiaries of an estate have to pay tax on their inheritance?

No. Florida tax laws mandate that inheritances and estates acquired through a decedent’s will cannot be given to the tate. This means that you will not be required to pay taxes on your inheritance. You may, in fact, even be exempt from filing the inheritance.

If I have a Will, are my assets still subject to probate?

Yes. Your assets can be subject to probate whether you die intestate or testate. It will largely depend on the size of your total estate, as well as how carefully your will is written. If your will accounts for all formalities and is up to date, it is possible to avoid the probate administration process altogether.

If I do not have a Will, does the State of Florida get all of my assets when I pass away?

If you do not have a will, the state of Florida will distribute your assets according to Florida probate laws. Typically, spouses and children are able to collect proceeds from a decedent’s estate. If there is no spouse or children, then the next level of relatives may be eligible to collect the decedent’s assets. After the estate is carefully distributed among family members, the remaining assets may be given to the state.

Do I need to sell my parents’ home after they pass to pay off their creditors?

It is not necessary to sell your parents’ home to pay off their creditors. In fact, in many cases, you are not responsible for handling your parents’ debt.

Am I liable to pay my spouse’s debt when they pass away?

In most cases, no.

What is the difference between probate and estate planning?

Estate planning deals with drafting documents to make the process of probate simpler. Paperwork such as wills and trusts are a part of the estate planning process. Probate involves handling matters related to a property owner’s estate after he/she dies. Review of wills, trusts and other governing documents are a part of the probate process.

What do I do when someone dies?

After the death of a loved one, there are numerous tasks that will need to be completed. Some of the most important duties include:

  • Notifying family members and other loved ones about the death.
  • Making funeral arrangements.
  • Canceling the decedent’s email accounts and organizational memberships.
  • Alerting the decedent’s life insurance company.
  • Contacting a probate attorney to begin handling the decedent’s estate.

Who has the authority to pay the deceased person’s debt out of his or her assets?

An assigned personal representative (Executor) or probate administrator has such authority.

Whom may a debt collector talk to about a deceased person’s debt?

Debt collectors may speak to the decedent’s estate executor or administrator. They also have the right to contact the deceased person’s guardian, spouse and parents (depending on the age of the decedent) in efforts to collect money and property that is owed.

For more information on Florida probate laws and administration processes, visit The Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates today. We offer free initial consultations so that your loved one’s estate is handled with greater ease.