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When a loved one passes away in Florida, there are numerous issues that must be resolved as part of honoring the terms of that loved one’s last will and testament. Probate is the legal process used to prove the validity of a will so as to allow for the proper administration of an individual’s estate after he or she has passed away. If you have recently lost a loved one and you need legal representation in the probate administration or litigation process, hiring a local Florida probate attorney at Jon L. Martin, Attorney at Law, will significantly improve your chances of having the process move ahead smoothly and without delays. Attorney Martin’s probate practice focuses exclusively on representing out-of-state beneficiaries and families in Florida probate matters.
Probate is known for being a long, drawn-out process that can often be quite costly. Due to this fact, many people either shy away from it or fail to obtain hard-hitting legal counsel that will help them protect their interests. In actuality, most people simply do not understand the process or its many benefits. One of the primary benefits of probate is that it gives an heir, who may have been left out of the will, a chance to file a claim against the estate and its assets. This process also helps ensure that an individual’s wishes will be upheld even after he or she has passed away.
Understanding The Benefits Of Probate
The process of probate will allow the heirs and loved ones the opportunity to challenge any changes made to the will that they believed were the result of undue influence or took place when the decedent was not capable of making these decisions. Disagreements as to the terms of the will can also be resolved during probate with the help of a skilled lawyer from our law firm. Creditors will be given an opportunity to pursue payment of any unpaid debts as well.
In all, probate puts the various aspects of dividing an individual’s estate into one legal process, thus negating the need to separately address or negotiate the terms of the will with every single heir, beneficiary or creditor.
Distributing Probate Properly
Property that belonged solely to a deceased person is distributed through the probate process. Certain property does not go through the probate process, such as property in a trust. After the probate property is determined and collected, the personal representative will have to manage the assets, handle the taxes and finally distribute the assets according to the valid will or Florida intestate laws. This is also known as estate planning and assures that all parties receive the inheritance they are due.
Property that avoids the probate process includes:
- Certain jointly held assets
- Certain death benefits
- Funds in a pay-on-death account
- Retirement accounts with a beneficiary
- Previously administered gifts
How Assets Are Distributed In Florida
If the deceased, or decedent, left a valid will, then the court will distribute assets according to those guidelines. The will, however, may be contested for a variety of reasons. One of these reasons is that the testator was unduly influenced into signing a will. If the will is thrown out, the estate plan will be distributed as if the decedent left no valid will.
Florida intestate laws will determine how the property is distributed if the decedent left no will. If a decedent is survived by a spouse, but all of his or her children and other descendants are either not living or descendants of both the decedent and the surviving spouse, the spouse will receive the entire probate estate. Interstate laws make provisions for spouses, descendants, parents, siblings and more remote relations to receive their due inheritance. If there are no surviving relations, the state of Florida will inherit the estate.
Hiring A Probate Attorney On The Treasure Coast
At Jon L. Martin, Attorney at Law, Mr. Martin understands that attempting to distribute a loved one’s assets according to their wishes can be a difficult task, especially when they resided in Florida and you are in another state. With over 40 years of combined legal and business experience, Jon L. Martin is prepared to assist you with even the most difficult of probate legal matters in Florida while you remain at home. For more information about options for your unique legal situation, complete a free case evaluation today!
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