Probate is the process of gathering the assets of a deceased person (decedent) and ensuring that their property is legally passed on to others. The personal representative to the estate is responsible for communicating with the probate court, and the court approves each step until the decedent's assets are transferred and the estate is closed.
The Role of the Florida Probate Court
In most types of probates, the court serves as a supervisor over the process to make sure everything is done in accordance with the law. The court has many duties throughout probate, including:
- Ensures that the Will is valid. Once the Will is filed with the court, it will be examined and recorded (along with the statements of witnesses) to make sure its provisions are valid.
- Clears creditor claims. The personal representative is required to notify any creditors of the decedent's passing to give them a chance to collect their debts. Court supervision is necessary to determine which claims are valid and how they will be settled.
- Checks the personal representative's accounting. The court examines all documents deposited by the representative for accuracy, including receipts for expenses taken from the estate during probate and an accounting of the decedent's assets.
- Approves the inventory of assets. Once the court has ensured that the personal representative has correctly gathered and valued all of the deceased person's property, the assets can be distributed to beneficiaries.
- Oversees the distribution of assets. The court makes sure that each asset is distributed to the person or entity that's supposed to receive it according to the law and the intention of the deceased. All beneficiaries must be made aware of this process in certain ways, but the court will make sure the beneficiaries either must consent to the plan of distribution or that the beneficiaries were made aware of the plan of distribution and did not consent.
- Hears cases involving estate litigation. If a relative challenges the terms of the Will or has a problem with the personal representative's management of the estate, the case will be brought before the probate court.
If you have questions about probate or the terms of a loved one's Will, the dedicated legal team at DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis can explain your legal options. Simply fill out the quick contact form on this page to set up a consultation and get answers to your questions.