Probate & Trusts
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Probate & Trusts
Probate is the court-supervised process of administering a person’s estate after he or she dies. The court oversees the appointment of a Personal Representative to administer the estate, collection and inventory of assets, identification of and payment to creditors, and the distribution of assets to the rightful heirs or beneficiaries. If an individual dies with a valid Last Will and Testament, that document will guide the court in the appointment of Personal Representative and distribution of assets per the decedent’s wishes. If an individual dies without a valid Will, the laws of the state of Florida determine who has priority to administer the estate, and to whom and in what shares the property will be distributed to the heirs at law.
Not all assets are subject to probate. Assets owned by an individual in his or her individual name, are held as tenants in common, or list the estate as the beneficiary are probate assets. Assets that are held jointly with rights of survivorship, name a beneficiary other than the estate, bank accounts that list a POD, securities that list a TOD, and homestead property, to name a few, are assets that typically pass outside of probate. If a valid Trust has been established and funded, those assets titled in the name of the Trust also fall outside of probate.
Florida law requires an attorney to represent a Personal Representative in the administration of a formal probate estate. Gulf Beaches Law, P.A. can guide the Personal Representative through the entire probate process by preparing all the necessary paperwork, providing legal counsel on the transfer of certain assets, distributing Florida real estate, inventorying assets, identifying and notifying creditors, handling any claims filed by creditors, preparing a distribution plan for the assets, and anything else that may be necessary during the administration. Gulf Beaches Law, P.A. can also guide a petitioner through a Summary Administration. A Summary Administration is available if the non-exempt property subject to probate administration does not exceed $75,000 or the decedent has been dead for more than two years.
A Trust administration is the process of administering a person’s Trust estate after he or she dies. Trust assets are assets whose legal ownership has been transferred to the trustee of a valid Trust through the process of funding the Trust. Because the assets are titled in the name of the Trust or name the Trust as the beneficiary, these assets are not owned by the individual and therefore pass outside of probate at death. A trustee named in the Trust will administer the Trust without court supervision. The trustee is responsible for collecting and inventorying Trust assets, maintaining any real estate, identifying and notifying any creditors, handling any tax matters, and liquidating and distributing assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with the Trust provisions. Depending on the Trust provisions, the trustee may also have to manage assets on an ongoing basis, ensure that the Trust corpus grows, make discretionary decisions on the distribution of assets to beneficiaries, in addition to other responsibilities and duties of the trustee. The attorneys and staff at Gulf Beaches Law, P.A. have many years’ experience in administering Trusts and assisting trustees in this process. Allow our expertise to assist you and your family in this process.