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What is Probate?

Probate is the court supervised process by which a deceased individual, known as the "decedent," has their assets transferred to those designated or legally entitled to the. The persons designated or legally entitled to the assets are known as the "beneficiaries." The purpose of probate is to transfer the legal title of the assets to the beneficiaries, which gives them legal right to the assets. These assets may consist of a bank account, homes, investment accounts, or other properties. Combined, these assets make up what is called the decedent's "estate."

How Do the Assets Get Transferred?

A person or company is appointed by the court to perform all legal duties required before assets can be distributed, like notifying potential debtors and filing all required court documentation. This person or company is known as a "personal representative." Once all of the personal representative's legal duties are completed, they will be responsible to gather all assets and transfer them, with permission of the court, to the beneficiaries.

Who Are Beneficiaries?

If a decedent passes away "intestate," it means they did not have a Last Will. In this case, the beneficiaries are determined by Florida law. If the decedent's spouse is still alive, their spouse would become the beneficiary at law. The spouse's share of assets may change depending on whether the decedent had children. If a spouse is not alive, or the decedent was unmarried, the assets transfer to blood relatives in a specific order that is laid out in the Florida statutes.

If a decedent passes away "testate," it means they did have a Last Will. A Last Will is a document the decedent would have created during their lifetime which typically lays out how property is to be distributed and to which beneficiaries. The Will may also appoint a particular person or company to be their personal representative, if desired.

How Long Does Probate Take?

It varies, sometimes lasting a few months to a year, sometimes longer if there are complications with transferring assets. It is important to contact a probate attorney for specific guidance and The Law Offices of Rina Feld may be able to help. Contact us today for any questions you may have.

This article is not intended to be legal advice nor create an attorney-client relationship.

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