II What is Probate?
First things first, whether in Probate or not, pursuant to Florida Statute 732.901; the keeper of the WILL must file the Will within ten (10) days after a person’s death where the decedent lived at time of 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.
Probate is a court-supervised process that is initiated with the filing of a Petition by the person asking to be appointed the Personal Representative (PR). The court will then:
- Prove to the Court that the Will is valid (usually routine)
- Appoint a legal representative with authority to act on behalf of the decedent,
- Identify and inventory the decedent's property, and have that property valuated,
- Pay debts and taxes, and
- Distribute the remaining property according to the terms of the Will (Testate) or if no Will (Intestate), then to the decedent's heirs.
- Identifying and gathering the assets of a deceased person (decedent),
- Paying the decedent’s debts
- Distributing the decedent’s assets to their beneficiaries
In general, the decedent’s assets pay the probate proceeding’s cost, the decedent’s funeral expenses, then the decedent’s outstanding debts. The remainder of the assets is distributed to the decedent’s beneficiaries.
The Florida Probate Code is found in Chapters 731 through 735 of the Florida Statutes and the rules governing Florida probate proceedings are found in the Florida Probate Rules, Part I and Part II (Rules 5.010-5.530).