What should you expect from the probate process?
After the passing of a loved one, you may have the responsibility of settling his or her estate. There is typically much more involved with this process than simply distributing assets according to the terms of the will. In many cases, many or all estate assets will have to first go through probate. This is the court-supervised process of validating the will, finalizing remaining financial matters for a Florida estate and ensuring estate assets go to the appropriate designated parties.
One person or party typically oversees the probate process, and this is the executor of the estate. It may be that the decedent named you as the executor of his or her estate, which means you now have an immense responsibility to manage and oversee the estate until probate is complete. As the executor or another interested party, it may be helpful to learn what you can expect from probate and how to avoid complications along the way.
Expectations for probate
The probate process starts by opening the estate — a step that occurs when the executor locates the will and files the appropriate paperwork with the probate court. The probate court’s role is to appoint the executor — if there is not one already designated — and authenticate the will. After that step, the following things will likely occur during probate:
- Location and valuation of all assets associated with the estate
- Identification and notification of all the decedent’s creditors
- Payment of remaining debts associated with the estate
- Preparation and filing of a final tax return for the estate
- Distribution of estate assets according to the terms of the will
In cases involving a straightforward will and uncomplicated estate, the probate process may only take a few months to complete. However, if there are disputes over the terms of the will, issues locating assets or other complications, it may take longer to resolve probate and close the estate.
Probate is a complex and lengthy process, and it is in your interests to take steps to avoid setbacks and complications as much as possible. One way you can do this is by learning as much as you can about what to expect, how to proceed and how to address unexpected situations. Your preparation can make a significant difference in making probate as simple and easy as possible for all heirs and beneficiaries.