Probate administration is a court process.
If there is no Last Will & Testament (Will), then the assets may pass by what’s called “intestate succession”. Intestate means that there is no Will. Florida Statutes set forth who is entitled to inherit estate assets if the deceased died without a Will.
Letters of Administration are court orders issued as part of a formal administration. LOA’s authorize the personal representative to begin administering the estate, including but not limited to, discussing financial details with banks and brokerages. It is not possible to get Letters of Administration without opening an estate in probate court.
Formal administration is the traditional form of probate in Florida. A personal representative (executor) is only appointed in formal administration.
Summary Administration is an abbreviated form of probate typically used when assets are valued at $75,000 or less (not including homestead value) or more than 2 years have passed since death date. A personal representative is not appointed in Summary Administration. Sometimes referred as “small estate administration”.
Generally no. Uncontested probate – where there is no dispute over the outcome of the case – will not require your presence in Florida. If an estate is contested, you may need to attend a hearing but your attorney may be able to appear without you. Phone hearings are also permitted in many cases.
Maybe. This is a two part question:
Generally speaking, you can start probate whenever you’re ready. Only you know how soon you want to move forward. However, there are certain situations where starting probate too soon may expose the estate to creditor claims you might be able to otherwise avoid. Once a probate case is opened, creditors can stake their claim. Note however, there are many assets that are exempt from the claims of creditors!
This is impossible for us to answer without a consultation but the general rule is if there are no assets “stuck” in the deceased’s name, then you might not need probate. Assets that are held jointly with a spouse or which have designated beneficiaries typically pass on to the heir without the necessity of probate. However, there are many other considerations that may determine if probate is truly necessary. Since every case is different, we highly recommend that you speak to an attorney to analyze your case. We always use Miller Legal whose information is above, They are also our partners in Sunshine State Title.