West Palm Beach Probate Attorney
Representing People Probating an Estate in West Palm Beach & Boca Raton, Florida
When a loved one passes away, the emotional process of sorting out their estate begins. Probate administration occurs when someone dies with a will that needs to be submitted to probate court for administration. This necessary process settles the debts of the estate, inventories and appraises property, and transfers title to the intended beneficiaries. Contact our West Palm Beach probate attorneys for more information or assistance with a case.
Drafting and signing a will is only the beginning of getting your estate in order. Residents of West Palm Beach, along with residents across Florida, must follow a set of complex regulations associated with the administration of a will. In fact, think of your will as a road map. The actual “grunt work” with settling your estate is often done through probate. This is a regulated legal process where a court appoints a personal representative to manage the administration of your estate. The personal representative of your estate can be a person (e.g., family member, friend, attorney, etc.), bank, or even a trust company.
As mentioned, Florida has a set of rules and regulations (108 in total) that must be adhered to in order to administer an estate. These probate rules go along with a myriad of statutes dealing with wills, probate and guardianship that make up the Florida probate code. Below are some of the most pertinent probate rules and regulations, published by the Florida State Bar:
Rule 5.200 – guidance on how to draft and submit a “petition for administration.”
- Your petition must include:
- a statement of the interest of the petitioner, the petitioner’s name and address, and the name and office address of the petitioner’s attorney;
- the name and last known address of the decedent, last four 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;
- 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;
- a statement showing venue;
- 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;
- 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;
- a statement of the approximate value and nature of the assets;
- in an intestate estate, a statement that after the 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;
- in a testate estate, 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; and
- 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.
Rule 5.330 – what must be executed by a personal representative.
The exact language of the statute states that:
- The personal representative shall sign the:
- petition for sale or confirmation of sale or encumbrance of real or personal property;
- petition to continue business of decedent;
- petition to compromise or settle claim;
- petition to purchase on credit;
- petition for distribution and discharge; and
- resignation of personal representative
The rules listed above, taken directly from the Florida Probate Code, are just a sample of what must be considered when an estate is being administered. This is why it is so important for you to reach out to an experienced West Palm Beach probate attorney. Whether you live in Lake Worth, Boca Raton, West Palm, or anywhere else in Florida, contact the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray to set up a time to meet to discuss your legal needs.
We represent people in probate administration, assisting them with obtaining probate appraisals, probate liquidation, and resolving contested wills, trusts and disputes. With over 25 years of experience, we represent people throughout Palm Beach County, Florida, from our three conveniently located offices in Lake Worth, Boca Raton or West Palm Beach, Florida. We have represented individuals in both complex and simple probate administrations — working hard to protect their rights under an estate plan.
We often hear that hard work is the path to achieving the American dream. But retaining as much of our earnings as possible for our family can be a challenge. An experienced estate planning attorney can work with you to assure that your hard work results in the accumulation of assets that are protected from liabilities. Asset protection planning can insure that tax liabilities are minimized for your family after you have gone. And unique issues such as second marriages, children from prior marriages, special needs children, etc., can all be addressed with trust and other techniques and devices.
Contact us or call (561) 296-5291 to schedule an appointment to discuss your legal concerns with an experienced West Palm Beach probate attorney.
Determining the Assets and Liabilities of an Estate
The process associated with determining the true value of an estate, figuring out the value of its assets and debts, can be complicated by a number of different factors. If necessary, our firm utilizes a number of tax experts, accountants, private investigators and forensic accountants to determine the value of an estate’s assets and debts, and to prepare financial documents and records in order to settle debts with creditors. We will also protect estates from creditors and others who attempt to make a claim against an estate.
Helping Out-of-State Families Probate an Estate in Florida
Many people retire in Florida, leaving out-of-state loved ones to sort out their estate after they die. An important part of our practice is representing out-of-state family members going through probate administration in Florida. We can assist families with many of the problems associated with probate administration — helping them to make this process as painless and convenient as possible.
Probate Law FAQs
If your parents or a loved one has recently passed away and you are left to manage their final wishes, you may end up in probate court.
The West Palm Beach probate attorneys at the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray P.A., can help you through the probate process and provide the legal advice and assistance you need to ensure that your loved one’s wishes are carried out properly.
What Is The Probate Process?
Probate means “to prove.” It is both the type of court and the process that you’ll need to follow to prove that a will is a valid document. The process can be both simple and quick or long and painful, depending on the types of assets involved or the circumstances surrounding the will’s creation. Some family members may contest a will’s validity.
During probate administration, you will file the will and petition the court for appointment of a personal representative. You will gather, account for and possibly sell all assets that your family member owned, including:
- Cars or boats
- Property, houses or vacation homes
- A family business
- Retirement accounts
- Life insurance
Then, any debt or taxes need to be paid and the assets that aren’t sold should be distributed. Once this is completed, the estate can be closed.
What Happens if Somebody Dies Without a Will?
Asset distribution can be tricky if your family member died without leaving final instructions. The court can appoint a personal representative who distributes the family member’s property in accordance with the Florida statutes. If there is a concern about who the court appoints, you may want to seek legal representation to prevent the appointment.
How Do I Avoid Putting My Family Through This Process?
If you are looking to avoid your will having to go through the probate court in the future, there are a few documents that can assist you in your planning. We can help you plan for future asset distribution that is both quick and legally valid. These probate-avoiding documents might include:
- A revocable living trust
- A life insurance policy specifically designating a beneficiary
- Jointly titling certain assets such as a bank account or investment account
- Payable on Death accounts
At the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray, P.A., we give you personalized attention. We discuss all your estate planning or probate administration needs with you so we can best protect the finances of you and your family. For more information, please contact us to schedule an initial consultation.
Contact Our Experienced West Palm Beach Probate Attorney
To speak to an experienced West Palm Beach probate attorney about your legal concerns as an individual or executor or administrator, contact us at the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray for an initial consultation.