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In Florida, most estates must be submitted to formal probate administration. In a formal probate matter, the court supervises administration of the estate, and the personal representative is required to provide detailed information and to fulfill a long list of statutory obligations.
Under limited circumstances, an estate may be managed through a summary probate administration process. This process is more streamlined, moves more quickly and puts less of a burden on the personal representative. However, this less formal approach is available only if the estate is valued at less than $75,000 or more than two years have passed since the date of death. In most circumstances, the personal representative must be prepared for the formal probate administration process.
The formal probate administration process is commenced through the filing of a Petition for Formal Administration. This is typically filed by the personal representative, although Florida law allows other interested parties to initiate probate.
Once a formal probate case is opened, the personal representative must provide notice to certain relatives and prospective beneficiaries. The personal representative must also make a diligent effort to identify creditors, and serve notice on those creditors. These notices must follow a specific format and include particular information set forth in the Florida Probate Code.
The identification and notice process can be daunting, but it’s just the beginning in a formal probate administration. The exact duties of the personal representative will vary depending on a variety of factors, including:
Some of the most common responsibilities will include:
The duties of a personal representative can be complicated, and may be particularly overwhelming in the wake of the loss of a loved one. Mistakes can be costly, since the personal representative has a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of the estate—a legal obligation to carefully manage and safeguard assets for their benefit.
You don’t have to figure it out alone. If you’re responsible for formal probate administration in Florida, an experienced probate attorney can be your greatest asset. You can take the first step toward securing the knowledgeable guidance you need right now. Just fill out the form at the bottom of this page or call 386-320-6169 to schedule a consultation.