Probate Administration Basics
The best way to understand probate administration is to take a look at the basic parts of probate administration. You will probably want to know the people who are involved in the probate administration process. Probate administration is the process of distributing a person’s assets once they have passed, in addition to other factors. It includes paying the deceased person’s debts, and the general winding up fo their affairs.
Who Is Involved in Probate Administration?
There are a couple of people involved in probate administration, whether or not the estate is large or small. Of course, a judge presides over the execution of the estate. There is also a personal representative, also known as an executor. The responsibilities of a personal representative are described in the Florida Statutes. The general duties of a personal representative are stated in Florida Statute 733.602:
(1) A personal representative is a fiduciary who shall observe the standards of care applicable to trustees. A personal representative is under a duty to settle and distribute the estate of the decedent in accordance with the terms of the decedent’s will and this code as expeditiously and efficiently as is consistent with the best interests of the estate. A personal representative shall use the authority conferred by this code, the authority in the will, if any, and the authority of any order of the court, for the best interests of interested persons, including creditors.
(2) A personal representative shall not be liable for any act of administration or distribution if the act was authorized at the time. Subject to other obligations of administration, a probated will is authority to administer and distribute the estate according to its terms. An order of appointment of a personal representative is authority to distribute apparently intestate assets to the heirs of the decedent if, at the time of distribution, the personal representative is not aware of a proceeding challenging intestacy or a proceeding questioning the appointment or fitness to continue. Nothing in this section affects the duty of the personal representative to administer and distribute the estate in accordance with the rights of interested persons.” (2018).
Wait, you may wonder. Who is the decedent? The decedent is the person who has passed away. During probate administration, it is the decedent’s will that is being executed. You probably have also heard of the words heirs or beneficiaries when there is discussion about wills and trusts. According to Florida Statute 731.201(2), a beneficiary:
“…means heir at law in an intestate estate and devisee in a testate estate. The term “beneficiary” does not apply to an heir at law or a devisee after that person’s interest in the estate has been satisfied. In the case of a devise to an existing trust or trustee, or to a trust or trustee described by will, the trustee is a beneficiary of the estate. Except as otherwise provided in this subsection, the beneficiary of the trust is not a beneficiary of the estate of which that trust or the trustee of that trust is a beneficiary. However, if each trustee is also a personal representative of the estate, each qualified beneficiary of the trust as defined in s. 736.0103 shall be regarded as a beneficiary of the estate.” (2018).
One the of the great things about a probate attorney is that they understand any convoluted and seemingly difficult legalese that may permeate any legal documents or statutes dealing with probate administration. In other words, you hire a Florida probate administration attorney to help you understand what is going on during probate administration. A Florida probate administration attorney can help you with abiding by Florida law if you are named as the personal representative of the will. That gets us on another topic: what is expected as a proof of wills?
What to Expect During Probate Administration: Proof of Wills & Objection to Claims
If you are designated as personal representative of a will, then you will likely need the help of a Florida probate administration attorney. A Florida probate administration attorney can help you decipher any legalese and ensure that you properly adhere to Florida probate law. As we can see with the statutes regarding proof of wills, there are quite a few things to be aware of. Let’s take a look at Florida Statute 733.201, which deals with the proof of wills:
“Proof of wills.—
(1) Self-proved wills executed in accordance with this code may be admitted to probate without further proof.
(2) A will may be admitted to probate upon the oath of any attesting witness taken before any circuit judge, commissioner appointed by the court, or clerk.
(3) If it appears to the court that the attesting witnesses cannot be found or that they have become incapacitated after the execution of the will or their testimony cannot be obtained within a reasonable time, a will may be admitted to probate upon the oath of the personal representative nominated by the will as provided in subsection (2), whether or not the nominated personal representative is interested in the estate, or upon the oath of any person having no interest in the estate under the will stating that the person believes the writing exhibited to be the true last will of the decedent.” (2018).
Furthermore, if you are a personal representative you may come across payment of and objection to claims. This stated in Florida Statute 733.705(1), aptly titled, “Payment of and objection to claims”:
“(1) The personal representative shall pay all claims within 1 year from the date of first publication of notice to creditors, provided that the time shall be extended with respect to claims in litigation, unmatured claims, and contingent claims for the period necessary to dispose of those claims pursuant to subsections (5), (6), (7), and (8). The court may extend the time for payment of any claim upon a showing of good cause. No personal representative shall be compelled to pay the debts of the decedent until after the expiration of 5 months from the first publication of notice to creditors. If any person brings an action against a personal representative within the 5 months on any claim to which the personal representative has not filed an objection, the plaintiff shall not receive any costs or attorneys’ fees, nor shall the judgment change the class of the claim for payment under this code.” (2018).
Florida Probate Administration Attorney at Bret Jones, P.A.
Have a qualified Florida Probate Administration Attorney help you during probate administration. Contact us at Bret Jones, P.A. so that we can guide your during the probate administration process. In Florida, there are different types of probate administration. We can talk you through each of them. At Bret Jones, P.A. we are very familiar with all that is required of every person during probate administration. If you find yourself in need of a Florida probate administration attorney, reach out to us at Bret Jones, P.A. We would be happy to help you with all of your probate administration questions, whether you are a personal representative or a beneficiary. Don’t hesitate to contact us today about your probate administration questions. We look forward to hearing from you.