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Tom McClellan

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XIV                   Other Frequently Asked Questions about Probate Issues


1.)        Death Certificate:      

a)     Can be obtained in Florida from the bureau of Vital Statistics at the Department of Health: ,or 

o   Each certified copy is $10.00, additional copies for the same person are $5.00 each.

(1)   Certified copy is issued by Local Vital Records Office with raised seal, signature of the Local Registrar and printed on Security paper.

o   Without cause of death:  any person of legal age (18 and over) may apply.

o   With cause of death information:  only decedent’s spouse, parent, child, grandchild or sibling of legal age.  Any person who provides a will, insurance policy or other document that shows interest in the estate.  Or by Court order.

o   Its recommended to get a dozen or so, they go fast


2.)        Homeowners/Condominium/Co-Op Association: 

ü  There can be more than one!  Need to find all and speak with them.

ü  Fees for each due monthly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually and can vary

ü  Fees for other amenities:      Required or Option to pay.  Golf, Clubhouse, Restaurant, etc.

ü  Special Assessments:  Roofs, Fences, Major repairs, new Amenities, Remodel existing ones

ü  Capital Contribution:  At time of sale of property, additional fee paid, usually by the Buyer

ü  Application and Fee:  Obtain approval of the Association to purchase and live in the community

ü  Estoppel Letter:  Fee charged to provide status of fees due and for the coming closing

ü  Documents:     Articles of Incorporation,    Bylaws,     Policy & Procedures (P&P),     Rules,     Budget,     Q&A,     and Website >150 units,     Restrictions?: Leases, Parking, Pets, Alterations. 


2)     Homestead:                                  -see XV Glossary- Homestead


3)     Parties Involved:                         

  • Clerk of the Circuit Court
  • Court and Circuit Judge
  • Attorney
  • Trustee(s)
  • Spouse
  • Family
  • Heirs
  • Beneficiaries
  • Creditors
  • Bank Accounts
  • Insurances
  • Health care providers
  • Funeral Home
  • Cemetery Grave site
  • Mortgage Lender
  • CPA/Accountant
  • Financial Planner
  • IRS
  • Realtor
  • Utilities
  • HOA
  • Taxes
  • Homestead
  • Inspections
  • Property Preservation
  • Repairs
  • Tenant


4)     Personal Representative (PR), Executor see VI PR


5)     Probate:               -see II, III, IV


6)     Rights of:                         

a)     Surviving Family:        Florida law protects the decedent’s surviving spouse and certain surviving children from total disinheritance.

b)     Beneficiaries:              Have the right to have their assets handled by the PR in good faith, obtain relevant information and received assets in a timely manner.

c)      Creditors:                    -see XI Creditors


7)     Title by Decedent Owner to the Property:                    -see XIV Glossary- Title held to Real Property 

a)     How the decedent held title (ownership) to the property at death will help determine the next step.

b)     Decedent owns Real Estate in more than 1 state or country


8)     Trusts:                               -see XV Glossary: Trusts

a)     Living Trust through Probate


9)     Will:         

a)      Pursuant to Florida Statute 732.901: A WILL must be filed within ten (10) days after a person’s death with the Probate Department of the County Clerk of the Circuit Office.  While an attorney is not necessary to file the will, it is suggested to contact one before filing to determine whether Probate proceedings will be necessary. 

b)     Testate:           Deceased has an Original Last Will and Testament of their wishes.

o   Modified Will:      May be modified at any time as long as executed (signed) and dated with a witness.

o   Validation Requirements:  Executed, Dated, Witnessed

c)      Intestate (No Will)                

o   The Probate court appoints a PR known as the “Administrator”.   The interest is distributed according to state law (“Intestate Succession”).

d)     Can Not Find the Will:          

o   Depends on if there is evidence the decedent properly signed the original, and then the court may accept a copy. 

e)     Contested Will

o   Bases for:

(1)   The person contesting the will must have a personal financial stake in the outcome.

(2)   Reason requesting a change in PR, someone cut out of the Will, someone who receives and unequal portion, someone who feels a charity should not get all the assets,  there is a later will, Will made at a time the decedent was not mentally competent, fraudant will or made under undue influence, will not properly executed,

f)      Judge can intervene to interrupt the Will wishes