Intestate vs. Testate

“Intestate” means that someone passed away and did not have a Last Will & Testament at the time of their death. When there is not a Last Will & Testament, then the statutes of the state of Florida decide who gets what from that person’s estate and who has the preference to be the personal representative.

“Testate” means that someone passed away and had a Last Will & Testament that stated their wishes on who will be personal representative and who will receive their assets after their death. The Last Will & Testament also has language that saves your personal representative time and money during the probate.

Summary Administration

If the estate value is less than $75,000 of UNEXEMPT assets OR if the date of death is more than two years ago, then the estate will likely qualify for a summary administration. This is a cheaper and faster process than a formal administration. This administration does not require a notice to creditors or the appointment of a personal representative and sometimes can be accomplished with a petition and an order. Exempt assets that do not count towards the estate value can include the homestead property, two vehicles, and personal property of up to $20,000.00, which can also depend on the relation of the beneficiary to the person who died.

Formal Administration

If the property of the estate is worth more than $75,000.00, then the probate proceeding that must be filed is a formal administration. This process requires the appointment of a personal representative, specific notices & waivers, formal inventory(ies), formal accounting(s), payment of or objection to any claims, distribution of assets and eventually discharge of the personal representative and closing of the estate. Mrs. Shorstein has handled many formal administrations and will guide you through the process from start to finish.

Probate Litigation

Probate litigation can include many different kinds of claims. One such claim is when someone challenges the validity of a will. Sometimes a will is challenged because there is a claim that the person did not have capacity (was not mentally able) when they signed the will so it is not valid. Another example of a “will contest” is when there is a claim that the will is invalid because someone improperly influenced the person to make the will before the person died. Other types of probate litigation include claims that the personal representative abused their power in some way or is not properly administering the estate, that the beneficiaries are incorrect and should be someone else, or that a financial agent abused their power using a power of attorney while the person was still alive. Mrs. Shorstein has handled many different types of probate litigation and can advise you of how to handle your specific situation.

Avoiding Administration

There are instances when a probate is not necessary, for example, when all of the property is exempt or when there is a small account that would only be enough to reimburse the person who paid the burial expenses. In these situations, there are other petitions that can be filed to handle those items instead of a probate administration. The alternative petitions can save a significant amount of time and money, if applicable.

Ancillary Administration

If the person who has died lived in one state and they owned real property (parcel of land, burial plot, or home) in another state at the time of their death, then there must be a probate administration filed in the location where they lived at the time of their death and another probate opened in the other state where they owned real property in the other state(s). The additional probate(s) is/are called the “ancillary” administration. We have handled ancillary administrations in cases where the main probate is in another state and the real property is here, and where the main probate is here with us in St. Johns County and there is property owned elsewhere.

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