Orlando Probate Attorney
The times that follow a loved one’s passing are often filled with grief, trauma, and unresolved conflict. As you go through the grief process, it is important to contact an experienced Probate Attorney to ensure your loved one’s estate and final wishes are completed. It is equally important that the assets from the estate are handled and distributed properly. Oftentimes, an estate will go into probate and that means a probate case must be opened in the court system.
Probate is the process where a court settles an estate after a loved one’s passing. The court determines the distribution of the assets to the beneficiaries as well as ensuring creditors are paid. Simply having a Last Will and Testament does not necessarily mean that there won’t be a probate case. How the assets are titled determines if an estate goes to probate. A consultation with an Experienced Probate Attorney is needed to determine if an estate needs to go probate, and to assist with the administration of the estate so beneficiaries named in a will can inherit, in accordance with the instructions given by the testator.
When you need to contact a Probate Attorney
Situations may arise that will require the assistance of a Probate Attorney. Some of the most common circumstances are:
- After a loved one’s passing, the bank will not allow you to access the accounts listed in the decedent’s name. An Attorney is needed to gain access to these accounts.
- A trust has been set up and you are named as a Trustee. An Attorney is needed to help with the Trust Administration after the grantor has died and there may be a corresponding probate matter that needs to be determined.
What to do Before the Estate goes into Probate
Florida law requires Attorney representation when an estate has gone into probate. It is essential to hire an Attorney experienced in handling probate matters. Real Property in an estate does not automatically transfer to the named loved ones or a spouse simply by filing a Last Will and Testament at the clerk of courts. An attorney must be retained to probate the matter and to properly distribute assets from the estate.
Immediately following the decedent’s death, it is important to complete a few immediate tasks to ensure that the property of the Estate is passed to the intended beneficiaries in the proper manner. A few of these “immediate tasks” are listed below:
- Secure the decedent’s house: It is an unfortunate surprise to see how many people think they can remove property from the home without legal permission to do so.
- Form a team of trusted individuals to assist you with all the tasks involved with the passing of your loved one. Tasks include- closing out bank accounts, informing people and organizations of the death, canceling memberships, and gathering needed paperwork.
You will also need to complete some administrative tasks, when meeting with an Attorney, prior to the estate going into probate:
- Locate documents associated with the Estate (Last Will and Testament, Trust Agreements, Insurance Policies)
- Compile Usernames and Passwords for Digital profiles and accounts
- File the Last Will and Testament with the Clerk of Court within 10 days of the decedent’s death in the county where he or she resided
- Contact the Social Security office immediately to notify them of the decedent’s death and to inquire about survivor’s benefits. If applicable, contact the U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs office to inquire about other survivor benefits you may qualify for.
- Close any membership accounts the decedent may have had- it may be necessary to provide a death certificate.
- Cancel any health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, or other insurances.
If a will is contested, the litigation will take place in a probate court. There are generally four grounds for contesting a will:
- The will was not signed with the proper legal formalities
- The decedent lacked the mental capacity to make a will
- The decedent was unduly influenced into making a will
- The will was procured by fraud
Whether you are contesting a will or the will in which you are a beneficiary is being contested, you will need a knowledgeable and experienced attorney to represent you.
Why a Consultation is Needed for a Probate Matter
A consultation with an experienced Attorney is needed to gather all the facts and documentation to determine if a probate process is needed, after which an Attorney can guide you through all of the necessary steps including:
- Notifying all beneficiaries
- Establishing legal authority within the guidelines of the will or trust.
- Completing paperwork needed to properly distribute the assets to the intended beneficiaries.
The Law requires that a probate matter be completed within one year from when the case is opened. Our Attorney’s average results of having a probate matter closed 25% faster.
The consultation will provide you with valuable legal advice on how to best proceed with a probate proceeding. There is a consultation fee that is charged, but the peace of mind that is gained from working with a probate Attorney is more than the consultation fee that is charged. We can take care of the legalities of a probate matter so that you can focus on dealing with the grief and healing with your family. To schedule your probate consultation, please give us a call at 407.647.7887.
Frequently Asked Questions Involving Probate
How do I get the information out about the death and the memorial service?
You can use the internet and social media to make announcements regarding notification of death and information regarding the memorial service.
What if my loved one was a veteran?
Contact the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs to find out what benefits are available for your veteran. Burial costs, military honors are other benefits you may be eligible for.
Who has the responsibility for making cremation decisions for the body?
If the deceased did not already have a Statement of Authority to make these decisions, we look to Florida statutes which state a surviving spouse or adult child may make these decisions.