You have figured out where the decedent (the person who died) resided at the time of his or her passing. Now you will need to hire an attorney to start the Florida formal probate administration process. How does it start? Typically, your attorney will file a document with the Florida probate court called the petition for formal administration. This process is for a formal administration, which is appropriate for a probate estate with a compensable asset value above $75,000. For probates with a compensable asset value below $75,000, summary administration may be the right process and that is a bit different from formal administration. Even in some cases where summary administration is permitted, it might be necessary to use formal administration. This post covers formal probate administration.

Under section 733.202, Florida Statutes, “Any interested person may petition for administration.” An interested person is defined under section 731.201(23), Florida Statutes, which states, “‘Interested Person’ means any person who may reasonably be affected by the outcome of the particular proceeding involved.” A named personal representative is an interested person in a Florida probate case. Other people who are also considered to be interested persons include beneficiaries under a will, family members of a decedent, and creditors of a decedent. Florida courts will typically construe an interested person broadly so that any person who has a stake in the probate proceedings will have the opportunity to bring their claims before the Florida probate court. If you are a person who may have an interest in a decedent’s estate or a claim against the decedent and probate has not been opened, it may be in your best interest to open probate, even if you’re not the named personal representative in the decedent’s will. If you have a claim, it is extremely important that probate is opened within two years after the decedent’s death, after 2 years all creditors’ claims are barred.

The requirements for the contents of the petition for administration are set out by Florida Probate Rule 5.200. All of the requirements for the petition for administration under Florida Probate Rule 5.200 include the following:

  1. The petition for administration must be verified by the person filing it. This means that the person filing the petition for administration must swear that the contents of the petition for administration are true to the best of the petitioner’s knowledge.
  2. A statement of the interest of the petitioner, the petitioner’s name and address, and the name and address of the petitioner’s attorney.
  3. The name and last known address of the decedent, last 4 digits of the decedent’s social security number, date and place of death of the decedent , and state and county of the decedent’s domicile.
  4. So far as is known, the names and addresses of the surviving spouse, if any, the beneficiaries and their relationship to the decedent and the year of birth of any beneficiaries who are minors.
  5. A statement showing venue. Venue is the location where the probate administration is filed.
  6. The priority, under the Florida Probate Code, of the person whose appointment as the personal representative is sought and a statement that the person is qualified to serve under the laws of Florida.
  7. A statement whether domiciliary or principal proceedings are pending in another state or country, if known, and the name and address of the foreign personal representative and the court issuing letters.
  8. A statement of the approximate value and nature of the assets.
  9. In an intestate estate (an estate where there is no will), a statement that after exercise of reasonable diligence the petitioner is unaware of any unrevoked wills or codicils, or if the petitioner is aware of any unrevoked wills or codicils, a statement why the wills or codicils are not being probated.
  10. In a testate estate (an estate where there is a will), a statement identifying all unrevoked wills and codicils being presented for probate, and a statement that the petitioner is unaware of any other unrevoked wills or codicils or, if the petitioner is aware of any other unrevoked wills or codicils, a statement why the other wills or codicils are not being probated.
  11. In a testate estate, a statement that the original of the decedent’s last will is in the possession of the court or accompanies the petition, or that an authenticated copy of a will deposited with or probated in another jurisdiction or that an authenticated copy of a notarial will, the original of which is in the possession of a foreign notary, accompanies the petition.

As you can see in this list, there are several items that any interested person petitioning for Florida probate must know. Please also note that if there is a will known to the interested person after reasonable diligence, the original copy of the will needs to be deposited with the clerk of court within 10 days of death, but is usually done at the same time the petition is filed. If you know of a will, but cannot find the original copy, additional proceedings may be required. That will be the subject of another blog post and is a more complex situation.

If you are an interested person of a decedent’s estate, or if you are named as a personal representative for a decedent’s estate, you should examine the list of items above that are required to be included in the petition for probate administration. An attorney is required to represent a personal representative in a formal probate administration. When you meet with an attorney about a formal probate administration, make sure to bring the documents and information listed above with you to the meeting, and any other documents that you think might be important. An attorney will be able to review the documents and information, which should help the attorney give you a better idea of the cost of probate administration and whether the probate estate qualifies for formal or summary administration.

If you are named as a personal representative or are an interested person for a probate estate, call our attorneys today for a free consultation. Our attorneys may be able to advise you on the approximate cost of probate, time frame, and answer any other questions you may have about the probate process. Our attorneys are experienced with summary and formal probate administration. Contact us today to see if we can efficiently administer your loved one’s probate estate.

 

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