In my more than 30 years as a practicing attorney in Florida, I’ve answered a lot of questions from my clients in different areas of the law. Answering questions for people is actually an important part of my job. I enjoy speaking with people and helping them alleviate their problems. One of my primary reasons for attending law school, passing the bar, and practicing law is so that I could obtain the expertise required to answer my clients’ questions.
One of the questions I’ve been frequently asked over the years is, “what is an open estate?” The question that generally follows is, “why is opening an estate necessary?”
What Is An Open Estate?
When a person dies, the deceased person’s outstanding liabilities need to be paid and their assets distributed to the correct individuals according to the provisions set forth in their will or by statute if they have passed away without a will.
If the deceased person doesn’t leave behind a will, or even if they do, a probate action needs to be filed with the court in the county in which the deceased person lived. The will in question may or may not have been prepared in the State of Florida.
What Is Probate?
Probate involves a process where the court proves the will and accepts it as a valid public document. During probate, the court finds the will to be true and correct document executed by the deceased. In Florida, there are two types of probate.
What Are The Two Types of Probate?
The streamlined process which is allowed for estates with assets of less than $75,000 or in the case of a person who has been deceased for greater than two years. The fee for filing a Summary Administration action is $350.00.
Applies to estates wherein the total assets are more than $75,000. This is, of course, more protracted and time-consuming than Summary Administration. The fee for filing a Formal Administration action is $400.00.
Who Is Responsible for Opening an Estate?
- As a general rule, the person named as the executor or personal representative of the will is responsible for opening the estate by filing a probate action in the county in which the deceased person, otherwise known as the decedent, resided.
- If the decedent did not have a will or if it wasn’t completed and executed correctly, then the person responsible for filing the paperwork to open the estate is a relative or close friend. However, any “interested party” may open the probate.
- As filing the correct documents and following the correct court procedures is an involved, intricate process, I highly recommend that the executor or relative/close friend retain the services of an experienced probate attorney on the estate’s behalf.
What Documents Should Be Filed To Open An Estate?
Your Probate Attorney will electronically file the following documents with the court in the county in which the decedent resided:
- A Petition for Formal Administration.
- A certified copy of the death certificate.
- Oath of Personal representative.
- Affidavit of No Florida estate tax due.
- Affidavit regarding Criminal history.
- The designation of resident agent.
- An Order Admitting Will to Probate and Approving the Personal Representative.
- If no will, an Order Approving the Personal Representative.
- Other documents as appropriate under the circumstances of each individual estate.
The Best Probate Attorney In Coral Springs
As Probate can be a long, protracted process, I highly recommend using the services of an experienced probate attorney to open the estate and fill the correct documents required by the court. To discuss opening an estate or other probate issues, please contact me at (954)786-9600, to schedule an appointment. I’ll be happy to answer all your questions!