People who are taking care of estate planning matters often want to make sure they fully understand how estate planning choices will affect their loved ones. Our Florida readers might like to know some basic factors about probate administration to help them make informed choices about estate planning matters.
In most cases, multiple people will be involved in the probate process after you pass away. These include the judge, your personal representative, an attorney, the clerk of court in your final county of residence and anyone who has claims against the estate.
The judge who presides over the probate case decides if the will is valid and confirms the identity of the heirs if necessary. The judge also handles any disputes and finalizes the will and estate distribution.
In Florida, the person appointed to handle your estate is called the personal representative. In some other states, this person is called an administrator or executor. The duties of a personal representative include dealing with creditors, gathering information about your estate and handling distribution of the estate. The personal representative also deals with tax matters and similar situations.
You can choose a trust company, a bank or an individual as a personal representative. In Florida, an individual must be either a close relative or a resident of Florida. A spouse, child, sibling or parent is considered a close relative.
Considering the entire probate administration process is a vital part of successful estate planning. From knowing what should be included in an estate plan to deciding who the personal representative should be can take a lot of thought. Seeking help from someone who is familiar with estate planning might make decisions easier.
Source: The Florida Bar, "Probate in Florida Pamphlet" Dec. 07, 2014