The death of a loved one is one of the most difficult experiences a family will ever have to go through. In addition to the grieving process and dealing with funeral arrangements, there’s also the challenge of managing the decedent’s assets and debt obligations.

Dealing with the Death of A Loved One

Given the emotions and stress involved with a family member’s passing, many people are unprepared for the potentially complicated legal proceedings that may be required to settle the decedent’s estate.

Probate is the court-supervised process by which the decedent’s assets are identified, their debt obligations settled, and the remaining assets are distributed to beneficiaries. Many families mistakenly believe that there is no need to involve the court when the decedent leaves behind a valid will, but even in these cases, probate is usually necessary to legally pass assets to designated beneficiaries. In cases without a valid will, the probate process will determine the distribution of assets to those eligible to receive them under Florida law (FL Statutes 732.101-732.111).

Only assets owned entirely by the decedent are considered probate assets, which may include (but are not limited to):

  • Bank or investment accounts solely in the decedent’s name.
  • Life insurance policies or retirement accounts with no designated beneficiary.
  • Real estate or other property to which the decedent held sole title.

The probate process can take many months to complete, especially if there is no will and the decedent’s assets and obligations are complex. In cases where the value of these assets is less than $75,000, the case may qualify for a simpler Summary Administration, but most estates will require a longer, and more complicated, Formal Administration.

Speak To An Experienced Probate Lawyer

Regardless of your probate situation, the best first step is to contact an experienced family law attorney. The lawyers at Mulligan and Associates can provide the knowledge, experience, and support you need to settle your family member’s affairs as quickly and easily as possible. With services in Hernando, Citrus, and Sumter County, we’re committed to meeting the legal needs of residents throughout the Nature Coast of Florida. Contact us today for an initial consultation.

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