Florida Probate Attorney
When a loved one passes away, the last thing you want to worry about is dividing up assets or spending hours discussing them with lawyers.
However, probate is usually a necessary process when someone passes away, even if they have a Will.
We're based in Clearwater, Florida, but our probate attorneys provide services throughout all of Florida.
Here at atCAUSE Law Office, we're dedicated to making the probate process as simple and smooth as possible. We offer full-service, flat-fee billing so you don't have to worry about any surprise legal fees.
What is Probate?
Probate is a court-supervised process of locating the assets of a deceased person, paying their debts, and distributing their assets to any beneficiaries. Generally speaking, the decedents assets will pay for the probate proceeding cost, funeral expenses, and creditors. Remaining assets are distributed to the beneficiaries.
Appointing a personal representative (commonly referred to as an executor);
Determining the value of assets;
Identifying and notifying valid creditors;
Paying the decedent's debts;
Designating assets to proper beneficiaries;
Distributing the estate;
Is Probate Necessary?
Probate is required if someone passes away without a Will – this is known as an intestate estate. In that case, all of their assets will need to be distributed under the supervision of probate court, which can be a long and complicated process.
When someone passes away with a Will, the probate court determines if it is legally acceptable.
If the decedent's estate planning was done properly, one could avoid having to go through the probate process to distribute most assets.
For example, probate is not necessary for assets with a named beneficiary, assets held in a trust, or assets that are jointly owned with right of survivorship.
That said, there are some items that may have to go through probate, such as non-titled property (like general household items) or sole ownership property.
Figuring out which assets will have to go through probate is best left to an experienced probate lawyer.
Why Would You Need an Attorney?
An experience estate planning attorney will have the know-how to help plan your estate so that probate is avoided. Though many probate attorneys practice estate planning, and vice-versa, they are not interchangeable services.
A probate attorney can help you through every step of the probate process, whereas an estate planning attorney will help from avoid it in the first place.
The two main reasons you would need an attorney are:
To avoid probate - if possible, it's best to do everything you can while you're still living to ensure your loved ones won't have to deal with the stress and expenses of going through the probate process after you pass away. An estate planning attorney can help you with the planning so your assets will be fully accounted for.
To help with the probate process - If you're already dealing with the probate process, an attorney can help you through each step to ensure a smooth process. Oftentimes, probate can take as long as six months to a year or more, which leaves a lot of room for filing mistakes to be made. A probate attorney can help speed up the process by making sure everything is free of mistakes, so assets can be distributed as quickly and fairly as possible.
Experienced Probate Attorneys in Clearwater, FL
Our experienced probate lawyers can help you with probate, regardless of where you are in the process. We can also assist you with setting up wills, trusts, and estate plans if you're looking to be proactive about the probate process.
Give us a call today at 727-477-2255 to set up a consultation!