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How to Handle Probate in Holly Hill, FL: A Guide for Families

Thu, Feb 22, 2024 at 11:41AM

How to Handle Probate in Holly Hill, FL: A Guide for Families

According to Fred B. Share, an attorney with over two decades of experience in probate law in the Holly Hill area, he knows firsthand how challenging it can be for families to navigate the probate process after losing a loved one. Probate can seem daunting to those unfamiliar with the legal system. However, with some guidance on what to expect, you can handle probate efficiently. Here is his advice on successfully administering an estate in Holly Hill, FL.

Locate the Will and Other Key Documents

After your loved one passes away, the first step is locating their last will and testament. This legal document identifies the nominated Personal Representative (also known as Executor) who will oversee the probate process. If no valid will exists, the court will appoint an Administrator. Also gather other important documents like deeds, financial statements, insurance policies, and titles to vehicles.

File the Petition with Probate Court

To open probate, the nominated Personal Representative will need to file a Petition for Administration with the Volusia County Probate Court located in DeLand. This formal court document starts the legal process. You will also need the death certificate and a complete inventory of assets. The probate clerk will schedule a hearing before a judge who will officially appoint the Personal Representative.  

Obtain Official Appointment

After approval by the judge, Letters of Administration are issued as legal proof of the Personal Representative’s appointment. Certified copies should be obtained to provide to financial institutions holding the deceased’s assets. This allows the Personal Representative to conduct estate business.

Provide Required Notices

Several notices must be properly provided at the start of probate. First, all beneficiaries named in the will must be noticed of the Petition for Administration. A notice to creditors must also be published in a local newspaper. This allows a statutory claims period for creditors to file against the estate.

Identify and Inventory Assets

The Personal Representative must locate, identify and catalog all of the decedent’s assets and property holdings. This comprehensive inventory must be filed with the probate court. Common assets include bank accounts, investment accounts, real estate, vehicles, and personal belongings. Accurately valuing these assets can be complex.

Settle Debts and Pay Expenses

Before making distributions to beneficiaries, the estate must settle legitimate debts and pay expenses. Typical estate expenses include funeral costs, medical bills, appraisal fees, attorney and accountant fees, and bankruptcy claims. Any taxes owed by the decedent or the estate must also be paid.

Make Proper Distributions

Once all debts and expenses are settled, remaining assets can be distributed according to the terms of the will. If there is no will, Florida intestacy laws determine distribution. Property like real estate or vehicles must be properly retitled before distribution. Detailed accounting records should be maintained.

Close the Estate

Finally, the Personal Representative petitions the court for a formal discharge after all tasks are completed. Any undistributed assets are turned over to the State of Florida. The probate judge will review all documentation and formally close the estate.

Share advises families to hire a probate attorney and utilize the guidance of professionals like appraisers, accountants and investment advisors. Don’t hesitate to contact the Fred B. Share Holly Hill law office if you need assistance with probate matters or estate planning for yourself or a loved one.

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