What Happens After Someone Dies With a Will?
If you have recently lost a loved one, you may be wondering what the next steps are. Estate administration is not always a straightforward process, and it is rarely quick, so it can be easy to feel like nothing is happening or like you do not know what is going on. The biggest determinant in how the estate administration process will unfold in the aftermath of a loved one’s death is whether they had a will and if it can be located. If your loved one has a will, the estate administration process can proceed in the ways specified below, depending on their assets and debts.
Disposition Without Administration
If the decedent did not have a will and their remaining assets are inadequate to cover their outstanding debts at the time of their death, disposition without administration may be an option. This option allows the individual who paid for the decedent’s funeral services to file a request with the court to be reimbursed for those costs from the decedent’s estate. In order to be eligible for this option, the decedent also must not have owned any property or real estate at the time of their death.
Summary administration is an option for decedent’s whose assets at the time of their death were less than $75,000 total. It is also an option if the decedent passed away more than two years ago. In this case, you may request that the executor named in the decedent’s will be allowed to directly issue the testator’s assets to the beneficiaries named in their will, rather than having to go through the entire probate court process, which we will discuss more below.
Formal administration is the most common type of estate administration. Unfortunately, it is also the most time consuming and costly. Through formal administration a testator’s will must be determined to be valid by the probate court. In order to be valid under Florida law, a will must have been signed by the testator (or their appointed representative if they were physically unable) in the presence of at least two qualifying witnesses who also signed the document. If anyone challenges the will for fraud or undue influence, it must also be shown that the will reflects the free will of the testator in order to be considered valid. In addition to determining the validity of the will, the probate court will also settle any outstanding debts, pay estate taxes, a fee to the personal representative, and legal and court fees, before distributing the testator’s assets in accordance with the terms of the will. If the will is determined to be invalid, intestate succession principle will apply.
Contact the SG Firm
If you need legal assistance with an estate planning or probate matter, Florida’s SG Firm is ready to help. Contact us to find out how to protect your interests and make sure that your loved ones are cared for regardless of how life unfolds. Call the SG Firm today to schedule a consultation.