What Will I Need to Start the Probate Process? (Transcript)
D. "Rep" DeLoach III, Estate Planning and Board Certified Elder Law Attorney
In order to start the probate process in Florida, you generally need a number of things. First thing you need to do, of course, is locate a good attorney. So a good probate attorney's going to help walk you through the process. But in order to go see the probate attorney, you think about a number of different things.
The first thing is at least you're going to need two short-form death certificates and the original. And the original would go to the attorney. If you can locate the decedent's original last will and testament, that's going to be very important. Now, if there is no last will and testament or if you only have a copy, the attorney will be able to help out. But ultimately, if you have the original, that would be very important. Aside from the death certificates and the original last will and testament, you would look to have the decedent's list of assets if you're able to locate that. If they had bank accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, land, whatever that you could locate us as far as the decedent's assets went. And then you would also want to make sure you've looked at the decedent's tax return as well. That can be very important to discover what the decedent's assets are.
But let's go through the assets one last time as you need your death certificates, you need the original last will and testament, you will look a list of assets, you'll look at the decedent's tax return, and then finally, you'd want to have the decedent's last bills. So any bills that are coming in the mail, you'd want to gather those up as quickly as you can because that's also taken care of, part of seeing the attorney and working through the probate process.