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Chaban Law Group – Probate.


Probate is the process where the estate of a deceased individual is identified, the debts of the
estate are paid, and assets are distributed to other living individuals (known as beneficiaries). Typically, the probate process is required regardless of whether an individual died with a will (“testate”) or without a will (“intestate”). The probate process begins when a petition is brought in court. The court will appoint a personal representative to carry out the administration of the estate. If the individual has passed away with a will in place, the will must be filed and accepted by the court. There are certain execution formalities that must be filed when a will has been created, and the court will ensure that the will is legally valid before accepting it to probate. Our attorneys can help identify and assess the assets that are subject to probate, as well as assist in preparing the documents necessary for administration and help with the process.

There are different ways that the administration of an estate can be handled under Florida law. While the typical process is known as “formal administration,” Florida also provides for a “shortened” process known as “summary administration.” This administration is typically for smaller estates valued at less than $75,000. This administration is shorter than the formal process and does not require all the procedures that a formal administration would require.

Contesting Probate Administration – Florida law allows potential beneficiaries and interested parties to make a claim during the probate process. Such claims can include that the will was a product of fraud, undue influence or duress or the meaning of a term in the will is unclear. Additionally, Florida law provides that a surviving spouse cannot be completely disinherited. If you are a surviving spouse and have not been provided for under the terms of an estate plan (or underprovided for), you could be entitled to an elective share. Florida law states that the elective share is 30% of the decedent’s estate. The probate process can be extensive and when documents are being contested, the risk of familial discord can be high. Our attorneys can help educate you on the process and help you assert your claims.


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“Probate – Family Law”

Intestate Succession – If an individual dies intestate (without a will), their estate will be distributed according to a Florida statutory scheme of distribution. Many people believe that if they have a surviving spouse, then that spouse will automatically receive the entire estate, however, that is not always the case. Florida Statute 732 provides for how an estate will be distributed under intestate succession. While the Statute is vast, some scenarios include:

There is a surviving spouse, but no descendants (children), the surviving spouse will receive the entire estate.
There is a surviving spouse and one or more descendants, all such descendants being descendants of the surviving spouse, the surviving spouse will receive the entire estate.
There is a surviving spouse and one or more descendants who are not descendants of the surviving spouse (such as children from a prior marriage), or the surviving spouse has descendants who are not of the decedent, the surviving spouse will receive one-half of the intestate estate with the other half being split equally among the lineal descendants of the decedent.
If there is no surviving spouse, the descendants of the decedent receive the entire estate.

As shown above, there are numerous ways that an estate will be distributed under intestate succession based upon on the decedent’s specific circumstances. There is also an order of succession if there are no living children or surviving spouse of a decedent, where the estate will be distributed to other living relatives. It is important to note that Florida does not recognize a “common law marriage” (meaning that the couple cohabitated but never legally married). Therefore, if you are in a partnership, the surviving partner cannot inherit from your estate absent a valid estate plan (such as a will or trust). Additionally, if it is your desire for one descendant to receive a greater share, this can only be accomplished through an estate plan. If your loved one has passed away without an estate plan in place and you feel you are entitled to a portion of the estate, our attorneys can help walk you through this process.

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