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Judge's Table


Do I need to Open an Estate? What is Probate?

When a loved one dies, you may not know where to look for help. The Florida Probate Code is found in Chapters 731 through 735 of the Florida Statutes, but reading these chapters of law and trying to determine your next step can be more than overwhelming. This is especially true if you are trying to find the next step while simultaneously grieving the loss of your loved one. At Stickley Law we can help you with your legal responsibilities, leaving you free to deal with the other necessities of a loved one’s passing. 

A good deal of the probate code in Florida deals with the responsibilities of the Personal Representative. The Personal Representative is the person(s) that you designate to handle your estate after you die. Many times this person is a spouse, child or sibling, but at times it may also be a close friend or other relative such as a cousin, aunt or uncle. Being a Personal Representative is a huge responsibility.

At a minimum a Personal Representative’s duties include:

  • Ensuring the proper notices are filed in the public record

  • Paying the debts of the estate

  • Taking an inventory of property and assets

  • Keeping property safe until it is time for distribution

  • Filing the taxes of the deceased person

  • Making sure all paperwork is properly and timely filed with the court

  • Keeping heirs informed of progress of estate matters and 

  • Distributing property to the proper beneficiary or beneficiaries

A Personal Representative is usually named in a will, but that is not always the case. If a person dies without a will or estate plan, the person is said to have died “intestate.” In these cases the Personal Representative may be appointed by the Court. Florida law provides a methodical way these estates must be handled. This can include looking for lost relatives and hunting for lost property. 

As you can see, this is not a job to be taken lightly. There are many rules and regulations to follow. At times, the beneficiaries of the estate may be upset or mad about the Personal Representative’s duties. A personal representative may not know how to go forward or even where to start once a person dies. If a Personal Representative does not handle an estate correctly, it is possible for them to be sued, and in some cases they may even have to pay damages! 

When you contact the Stickley Law Office for assistance with your probate matter, you will get an experienced and knowledgeable attorney that works with your best interest at heart. We will make the administration of your loved one’s estate more manageable. While being a Personal Representative is never easy, the support and guidance you receive will make the process flow more smoothly and easily. Our legal representation will make sure you understand the process and your responsibilities. We will make sure all legal matters are handled timely and accurately. Most of all we will be there to support you. 

Let our office help you in this difficult time. Contact us at 941-474-5506 for a consultation today.

Estate and Trusts Administration: Practices
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