Pensacola Estate Planning and Probate Lawyer
Our goal is to assist you in planning for your protection as well as the benefit of your loved ones. We know the impact good planning can have on those left behind. Get answers to your questions, call our Pensacola estate planning and probate lawyers.
Planning for your Protection
Who will take care of you and your property if you lose your capacity? Planning for the possibility of incapacity is important and the decisions you make (or fail to make) can significantly affect you and your family. For instance, you can specify who you will authorize to be your agent and manage your property. Doing this in advance might avoid bickering or fighting between your children. You can also specify who you will authorize to make healthcare decisions for you if you become incapable of making them for yourself.
Wills and Trusts
Our estate attorneys seek to meet the needs of clients, from the simplest of estates to the more complex. Wills and trusts are often an important and necessary part of an estate plan that ensures your property will be distributed to the persons you prefer and in the manner you prefer.
A trust is, in essence, a contract where a trustee agrees to hold property for a beneficiary. Trusts can be useful for protecting a beneficiary from themselves (if they might be prone to waste the property inherited from you) or from others (because a beneficiary’s interest may be protected from their creditors or from a divorcing spouse). These are only some of the reasons for leaving property for someone in trust. Many other reasons also exist, including to achieve favorable gift, estate, and tax planning.
Our attorneys are experienced in handling sophisticated planning techniques and know the importance of estate planning instruments that are clear, unambiguous, and yet flexible enough to accommodate changed circumstances (if that is a concern). They also understand how estate planning techniques and strategies may assist in protecting your property from creditors’ claims.
Moorhead Real Estate Law Group – Estate Attorneys For You And Your Family
Pensacola Probate Attorneys
In Florida, probate is the legal system through which certain assets of a deceased person are used to pay off the deceased’s debts, with the remaining assets passed on to those who inherit from the deceased person.
A Florida probate can include tasks such as submitting a Will to the Court, identifying the decedent’s assets and creditors, assisting with the liquidation of assets and distributing property pursuant to a Will or to Florida law.
In Florida, the Personal Representative (also known as the executor) is charged with managing the probate assets and administering. Florida Courts generally do not allow “do-it-yourself” probates except in cases involving very limited assets. Is the Personal Representative required to use the attorney that drafted the will? No. The Personal Representative is under no obligation to use the law firm that wrote the will to handle the probate administration.
TYPES OF PROBATE ADMINISTRATION IN FLORIDA
The State of Florida has two types of probate administration: formal administration and summary probate.
FORMAL PROBATE ADMINISTRATION
A “formal administration” is the more involved of the two kinds of Florida probate administrations. A formal probate administration requires a minimum of six months to complete, and most take longer, depending on the County and the facts of the case.
A probate case is opened with a petition to open the estate and name one or more personal representatives. After the estate is opened, a Notice to Creditors is published in a local newspaper, and creditors generally have three months in which to file their claims. The personal representative sets out to identify the debts and assets of the estate and to have any necessary tax returns prepared and filed.
Once the creditor period has passed for claims, the personal representative determines when and how to pay the estate’s valid debts (in a certain order), and ultimately, distributes the remaining estate. Once everything has been distributed, the Florida estate can be closed.
“SUMMARY” PROBATE PROCESS FOR SMALLER ESTATES
Florida also has a “short form” of probate for certain smaller or older estates, which is faster and less expensive than a formal probate.
Summary probate administration is available for estates with “non-exempt” property of less than $75,000. The value of “homestead” real property is not counted in totaling the value of the estate (it’s considered “exempt”). Summary administration can also be used in any size estate if the deceased has been dead more than two years. Summary administration does not work in many cases, such as those where the asset and debt details are unknown, or cases where there are missing or minor heirs or beneficiaries.
Pensacola Probate Lawyers Assisting Northwest Florida and Surrounding Areas
Our attorneys and staff strive to be responsive, efficient and economical in assisting with estate administrations, whether in Pensacola, Destin, Northwest Florida, or Alabama. Probate can be a bit confusing, and our office is here to make it less so. We welcome the opportunity to assist you with your probate questions and administration.