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My dad's estate is going into probate: What should I expect?

If your parent recently died in Florida, the estate will likely need to go through the probate process. In the vast majority of probate cases, the process will be uncontested. However, if there is a disgruntled family member, a contestation is possible. In this case, you may need to take legal action to protect your inheritance rights - and ensure that your loved one's wishes are honored.

The basic probate process will include the following steps:

  • Collecting all the assets and property of the decedent that falls under the jurisdiction of the probate process.
  • Paying off outstanding debts of the decedent, satisfying outstanding claims against the estate and paying any taxes owed by the decedent.
  • Collecting the rights to receive income and dividend from investments.
  • Litigating and settling any disputes that arise among parties that have a stake in the probate proceedings, such as creditors, family members and potential heirs.
  • Collecting the assets and property that remain and distributing them to heirs.

Appointment of an executor

During the above process, the executor - who is usually named by the decedent in the estate documents - will fulfill an important role to ensure that the probate process moves forward in accordance with the decedent's wishes. If no executor was named, then the court will appoint an estate administrator or personal representative, who will manage the settlement of the estate.

The complexity of large estates

Unfortunately, the larger an estate happens to be, the more complicated the probate process usually is. Large estates with multiple homes, vehicles, bank accounts, brokerage accounts, businesses owned and properties take longer to organize during probate.

In the case of a larger estate, the probate fees and costs may also be more. Those costs may include: personal representative fees, attorneys' fees and court costs.

Get help with probate from a legal professional

If you're serving as the executor of your deceased parent's estate in Florida, an estate planning lawyer can help you navigate the probate process. In fact, you can even entrust the details of your responsibilities to a lawyer, who will guide you through the process and take car e of the most important aspects of settling your loved one's estate.

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