Estate Planning And Elder Law Services In Orlando And Beyond

Experienced Legal Representation In Probate Court

The death of a loved one is always hard. For the deceased’s personal representative, their grief is compounded by their duty to make sure the estate gets properly settled. Fortunately, personal representatives can retain an attorney for advice and support.

Our team at The Kaplan Firm represents personal representatives, also known as executors, in Orlando and the surrounding communities.

For more than 20 years, attorney Mary Kaplan has practiced probate law. She knows Florida’s probate statutes and procedures inside and out and has appeared before all the probate judges in the region. She will work with you to reduce the stress of being an estate’s personal representative and bring the matter to an end as efficiently as possible.

The Probate Process

There is a set process for probating an estate in Florida.

First, you need to gather documents proving what the deceased owned and what debts they might have died with.

Next, you need to notify those creditors and conduct an inventory of the assets, so you know exactly what the estate is worth.

Three months after notifying the creditors, you can pay off debts from any party that came forward to claim a debt or dispute them if you believe a claim is invalid. Once the debts are settled, you must file a final income tax return, and possibly an estate tax return if the estate’s worth is high enough. The remaining assets go to the heirs as the will details.

Once you have distributed the assets and made a final accounting, you must file a petition with the probate court asking to close the estate.

What If There Is No Will?

One of the things that most people include in their will is the name of the person they would like to be their personal representative. But when someone dies intestate – that is, without a valid will – the probate judge must decide who will have the job, often depending on who steps forward to volunteer. Then the personal representative continues as usual, except they will distribute the assets according to state intestacy laws.

Can You Avoid Probate?

Generally, yes. Avoiding probate can be possible if all the deceased’s assets are placed in a Revocable Trust or if all the assets are not subject to probate for some other reason. For example, accounts that pass to properly designated beneficiaries, such as an IRA or a life insurance policy, are not subject to probate. 

Does Every Estate Go Through Probate In Florida?

The estate might qualify for summary probate if its total worth is less than $75,000, not including revocable trusts, certain exempt assets and accounts with designated beneficiaries, such as a life insurance policy. We can advise you if the estate qualifies for this.

Make Sure The Estate Is Handled Correctly

As you can see, being a personal representative is a complicated job. Most people with jobs and families may struggle to find the time to handle it on their own. We will handle the work for you so you can focus on your own life and not have to worry about making a mistake. Also, if a dispute over the will arises, we can represent you in court.

Find out more about how The Kaplan Firm can help you honor your loved one’s final wishes. Speak with Mary Kaplan and get answers to your key questions. Call us at 407-863-6175 to set up an appointment. We are located in Orlando and serve clients throughout central Florida.