Probate is an action in Court to transfer the assets from the decedent (a person who passed away) to the beneficiary or heirs.
Once a person passes away, that person can no longer transfer (sign of) assets to the beneficiaries. That’s where the court comes in. You file a petition with the court, open a case, and a judge is going to be able to sign those assets legally over to the heirs.
In addition, the court ensures that the rightful heirs are determined– either by following the decedent’s wishes left on a Will or by applying the laws of the State of Florida (or the state where the probate is open). The court also ensures that any debts pending from the decedent are paid or resolved and that any tax returns or taxes due on the estate are finalized.
A Probate is required with a Last Will and Testament or without one. When there is a Will, the court will transfer the assets to the heirs or beneficiaries indicated on the Will. When there is no Will, then the Court will transfer the assets to the heirs or beneficiaries as the Law of Florida indicates.
Lots of people prefer to avoid the probate process. The process can be lengthy and costly and it is public. That means that anyone can have access to the information filed with the Court and know who is receiving what and how much. To avoid probate, many prefer to use a Trust (usually a Revocable Living Trust) as part of their planning. A trust administration, on the other hand, is a private process.
The type of planning you do will determine the need for Probate.
We are here to help with the planning process and also with a Probate, if needed. When a family member passes away, it is a time of grief and confusion. We cannot take the pain away, but we can certainly work to guide you and your loved ones through the legal process and at least make the legal process less confusing or daunting.
At Yahima Suarez, PA, we care.