When a person dies, their estate goes through probate court. As a loved one, you might be the administrator of the estate or noted as a beneficiary. The probate process can be lengthy, lasting up to a year. Someone whose loved one has died and their estate is going to go through probate may want to better understand the probate process as well as their rights and duties.
If you are going through this process and need a probate administration attorney, I am ready to help. With almost 20 years of experience, I work to protect your family and their assets. I proudly serve clients living in Boca Raton, Florida. Reach out to me — Eric H. Light, P.A. — today to schedule a consultation.
Probate is the court-supervised process for identifying and gathering the assets of a deceased person, paying their debts, and distributing their assets to their beneficiaries.
Not every asset that a deceased person has goes through probate. Probate assets include things that were owned solely by the decedent or assets that were jointly owned but for which no rule of succession was in place upon their passing. Examples of probate assets include homes, bank accounts, life insurance policies, cars, and material things within a home.
There are two types of probate — formal administration and summary administration.
Formal administration is the more standard form of probate. In formal administration, someone named in the will or another interested party comes forward as the executor of the estate. The court issues letters of administration, which give the representative the authority to settle the estate. At this point, if there is a will, it is brought forward and its validity is determined. The representative then gathers assets, pays off any debts, and distributes what is left to any beneficiaries. This usually takes place in the county where the deceased person lived and is overseen by the court. Once this is done, the estate is closed.
A summary administration is considered a “shortcut” form of probate. This can happen if the individual’s death was over two years ago or the estate going through probate is not worth more than $75,000. In this process, the nominated executor or person who inherits the property files notice with the court that it qualifies for summary administration. The decedent's assets and their value are listed, as well as who inherited which assets. The court can then release the inheritance to the person to whom it is owed if it deems that a summary administration is met.
An executor or administrator can be determined by the will. There is not always a will, however — in fact, approximately 68% of Americans do not have one. If there is no will, the administrator can be a spouse, sibling, parent, child, or close relative of the decedent. If this option is not available, it can also be a bank or trust institution.
The legal duty of the administrator is to administer the probate estate in compliance with state law and in accordance with the decedent’s expressed wishes. Having an experienced probate administration attorney to guide you through the process can give you the direction you need.
While probate can be a lengthy process, a skilled attorney has the experience needed to navigate complex estate matters. I work one-on-one with each of my clients in order to represent them to the best of my abilities. If you are in Boca Raton, Florida, contact me — Eric H. Light, P.A. — today to set up a consultation.