In order to settle an estate, heirs may first have to navigate a court-supervised process of validating the will and paying off debts. This is the probate process, and these are only a few of the required steps that must be complete before it is possible to distribute assets from a Florida estate according to the will. If one must navigate probate as an heir or the executor of the estate, it is helpful to have reasonable expectations for this process.
What happens during probate?
Probate can be complex, and it can take months to complete. It may even take longer if there are problems, such as a dispute over the validity of the will or difficulty locating estate assets. Required steps in this process include:
- Locating and verifying the will
- Securing death certificate and filing petition with probate court
- Locating and assigning a value to estate assets
- Paying outstanding creditor claims and remining debts
- Distributing assets according to the terms of the will
Because of the time, expense and potential complexity of the probate process, many design their estate plans in a way that allows them to bypass the probate process entirely.
Probate and estate administration assistance
It is not easy to navigate the probate process. It may be helpful for an executor or other interested party to seek the guidance of an experienced Florida estate law attorney in order to avoid problems and learn more about what to expect from probate. This assistance may help simplify the process and ensure the rightful heirs receive the appropriate estate assets.