After a loved one passes away, those left behind are typically tasked with the responsibility of making sure his or her estate is properly handled. Depending on the estate, this may include distributing assets according to the terms of the will, locating assets and eventually closing the estate. This process is called probate, which is the court-supervised process of authenticating a will and ensuring assets are distributed appropriately.
In the first step of the probate process, a Florida court will authenticate the will and appoint an individual to act as executor of the estate. The decedent may have named the executor of the estate in his or her will. Once formally appointed by the probate court, that individual will oversee the process of locating, inventorying and valuing assets.
Before heirs and beneficiaries can receive any money or assets from the estate, remaining taxes and debts will have to first be paid off. The executor will have to pay off any remaining obligations to creditors and settle any outstanding disputes. Once this is complete, remaining assets can be distributed according to the terms of the will.
A Florida family will find it helpful to have assistance as they navigate the probate process. This can be a lengthy, complex and emotionally challenging undertaking for a grieving family, especially if there are disputes over the terms of estate planning documents and the decedent’s wishes. An experienced estate planning attorney can help them avoid problems and setbacks when settling an estate.