When a loved one’s estate needs to go through a probate court proceeding in Florida, having an experienced, compassionate and skilled attorney by your side can make a difficult process easier.
The Judy-Ann Smith Law Firm, P. A. represents personal representatives and estate beneficiaries, providing valuable guidance and assistance with formal probate, ancillary probate, and summary administration.
Understanding Florida Probate Administration
Probate proceedings are designed to ensure a deceased person’s estate is handled according to his or her last will and testament, if applicable. When someone dies with a valid will, they are said to die “testate”, and the named beneficiaries receive inheritance proceeds through the probate administration.
If the decedent did not leave a valid will, probate court serves to ensure the estate is managed and distributed according to Florida law. When this occurs, the deceased person is said to have died “intestate.”
In both “testate” and “intestate” probate matters, the probate court process and documentation determines legal ownership for the deceased person’s assets, and allows for the orderly transfer of title to heirs.
The Role of the Personal Representative
During the probate process, the court will appoint someone as the personal representative (executor) of the estate.
The personal representative owes a fiduciary duty to the estate beneficiaries and creditors, and must manage estate administration in a way that is in the best interest of all interested parties.
Some of the personal representative’s responsibilities include:
- Safeguarding the deceased person’s assets during the probate process
- Paying valid debts
- Paying final expenses
- Handling tax obligations
- Distributing assets to named beneficiaries if applicable, or transferring ownership according to state law if no heirs or devisees were named.
How a Probate Attorney Can Help
Even relatively straightforward probate cases can involve a lot of paperwork and deadlines, and certain legal formalities need to be met along the way. After a loved one has died, trying to manage a probate court proceeding on your own can be frustrating and overwhelming.
An experienced, knowledgeable Florida probate lawyer can provide invaluable guidance and assistance, helping the personal representative understand and meet their obligations throughout every step of an often-complex process.
Beneficiaries of an estate may also benefit from hiring a skilled probate attorney who can advise them on their rights and responsibilities with respect to their deceased loved one’s estate and their anticipated inheritance.
Schedule an Initial Consultation Today
Attorney Judy-Ann Smith understands the legal side of probate administration; she also knows the emotional toll that comes with losing a family member or close friend. She offers experienced, dedicated representation to handle and resolve probate matters as smoothly and as quickly as possible.
To learn more about how attorney Judy-Ann Smith can represent you in a Florida probate matter, contact her in the firm’s Jacksonville office today.