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How Long Do You Have to File Probate After Death?

Updated: May 7

One of the last things you want to do after losing a loved one is to file documents at the courthouse. However, some required filings have deadlines that are important to be aware of.

So, how long do you have to file probate after someone passes away?

It's recommended to file for probate as soon as possible. Here's how the process works, and exactly when you need to file.

Probate in Short

Probate is a court-supervised proceeding that aims to distribute assets appropriately. A probate court will log all of the decedent’s assets and use them to pay any outstanding debts. After that is finished, they will allocate the remaining assets to the appropriate beneficiaries.

You can avoid probate, but doing so takes careful estate planning and the help of an experienced probate attorney.

How Long Does Probate Take?

The probate process usually takes six to twelve months, but be prepared for it to take longer.

It is also worth noting any items that go through probate cannot be passed to the intended beneficiary until the entire process is complete.

How Long After Death Do I Have to File for Probate in Florida?

Florida law dictates that anyone who gains possession of a will after someone passes away must file it within 10 days after learning about their death. At this point, the court will let you know if probate court is necessary.

As mentioned above, probate can take over a year, and it can’t begin until a petition is filed. So if you wait a year to file, assets may not be distributed for more than two years after death.

How Does Filing for Probate Work?

The individual named as the executor of a will is the one responsible for filing for probate. This person is trusted to take care of the necessary documents and legal proceedings.

Despite a trip to the courthouse, filing for probate is the easiest part of the process. There are two main tasks you will need to do to proceed with your filing.

Gather Necessary Documents

Before probate can start, you need to submit the necessary documents to the court.

To file a petition for probate, whoever is filing needs the decedent’s original will and death certificate.

File a Petition in Court

The next step is to file a petition in the circuit court of the county where the person died. In Florida, this must be done within 10 days of learning of the death.

There is a fee to file for probate. These fees are typically found on your local county court website.

The filing will initiate notices being sent to all beneficiaries. Many times, everyone is already aware of the death, but it is still done as a formality to ensure there are no loose ends.

After about a month, the court will send Letters of Administration saying your petition has been granted. In these letters, the official representative, or executor, will be named and the process can continue.

What Do I Do After Filing for Probate?

After you petition for probate, the hard work starts. There are many tasks that come with the probate process, including notifying beneficiaries, notifying creditors, taking inventory of assets, and paying outstanding debts and taxes.

Notify Necessary Parties

Besides beneficiaries, the executor is responsible for notifying creditors of a death. While there isn't an exact timeline for when to notify creditors, Florida law wants this done as quickly as possible.

This will allow creditors to take the necessary steps to collect what is owed to them. They're given 90 days from the date of their notice to file claims.

Settle Outstanding Debts

The representative will use the assets left behind by the decedent to pay any outstanding debts that remain. It’s important to take care of this right away to avoid bombardment from debt collectors.

File and Pay Estate Taxes

No matter where you are in the country, a filing for federal estate taxes will be due nine months after death.

Many states, such as New York, require a state estate tax to be filed as well. However, states such as Florida don't have this requirement.

Distribute Remaining Assets

After all fees, creditors, and taxes are paid, the remaining assets are ready to be distributed.

Each piece of the estate will go to the respective beneficiary listed in the decedent’s estate plan.

Do You Need Help Filing for Probate?

You don’t need to go through the probate process alone.

Our experienced estate planning and probate attorney can help ease the burden of filing probate. Call us or message us today, and let us help take the weight off your shoulders.

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