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I received a notice of probate. Does that mean I'm getting an inheritance?

Probate of Will Paperwork and Case NumberIt’s possible that your probate notice signals inheritance, but it’s not a guarantee. Each state’s probate laws require certain parties to be notified when a person passes away. In Florida, the personal representative of a deceased person’s estate is required to issue an official Notice of Administration to all beneficiaries. 

Who Must Be Sent a Notice of Administration in Florida?

Florida clearly distinguishes between heirs (surviving family members) and beneficiaries (those who stand to inherit). Of the two groups, only beneficiaries must be notified of probate proceedings. Not all heirs are entitled to a Notice of Administration—and those who are notified are not necessarily going to inherit anything.

A Notice of Administration generally needs to be issued to:

  • The surviving spouse of the person who passed away 
  • Beneficiaries named in the deceased person’s will
  • Beneficiaries of a person who died without a will
  • Any interested party potentially entitled to property from the estate

Why Did I Get a Notice of Probate?

Personal representatives are not required to state the reason why each person is notified in the official Notice of Administration. As a result, you may not know precisely why you were notified of a loved one’s probate until the proceedings have begun. The four categories above encompass a wide range of circumstances, so it’s best to get your questions answered by a Florida probate attorney to see what the future holds.

For example, you should receive a Notice of Administration if you are:

  • A named beneficiary. If your loved one died with a will, the representative must notify all people named as beneficiaries. This can include the deceased’s family, friends, acquaintances, charitable organizations, and anyone else to whom the deceased left property. The personal representative must make every attempt to contact named beneficiaries and heirs-at-law, including posting a notice in local newspapers.
  • An heir-at-law. If a person dies without a will (intestate), the law outlines a specific order in which their close relatives inherit their property. If your loved one died intestate, their property would pass to their spouses, children, grandchildren, the deceased’s parents, and finally the decedent's siblings. If none of the heirs-at-law are still living, then other descendants may have a claim to the estate. We have the rules of intestacy on this page of our website.
  • The trustee or beneficiary of a trust. If the person who passed away created a revocable living trust, those named successor trustees or beneficiaries of those funds should be notified of estate administration.
  • The parent or guardian of a minor. If one of the deceased’s beneficiaries is under 18 years old, the minor’s natural parent, custodian, or appointed guardian must be given notice of probate. In addition, any person named as the deceased minor child’s new legal guardian must be notified. Learn more about Florida guardianships here.
  • Legally within your rights to object to a provision of the will. An interested party is someone who has the legal standing to challenge the terms of a will and assert their rights to an inheritance. If you’re an interested party, you have the right to receive an inventory and accounting of the estate assets, a copy of the will or trust, and statements of payments to creditors.
  • Disinherited by the will. If you have been intentionally disinherited, you should still be notified of administration so that you have a chance to object during probate proceedings. Notification is vital in these situations because of the time limit to challenge a will.

Let Our Probate Attorneys Explain Your Options

If you’ve been issued a Notice of Administration, you have a limited window of time to challenge the will's validity. For this reason, it’s a good idea to consult with a probate attorney at DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis, P.A. to understand your rights. Contact us today to set up a consultation and get answers to your questions, or read through our free book, Navigating the Florida Probate Process, to learn from our years of experience helping relatives through estate administration.

 

Michael D. Cavonis
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Probate and Estate Litigation Attorney