Florida Ancillary Probate Process for Property in Florida

Florida ancillary probateThere are many people who own property in Florida but do not live here year round. If a loved one passes away in another state or country while owning property in Florida, then the estate must be probated in at least two places: the principle place of residence and in the Florida County where the property is located.

The above described “secondary probate process” for the decedents’ real property, such as a house or condo, and personal property, such as a car or jewelry, is referred to as ancillary probate.

The Florida ancillary probate process is important. It is the responsibility of the personal representative of the estate of the deceased to ensure that the Florida ancillary probate process is properly conducted according to Florida law. This may include a legal requirement to hire an attorney to represent both you as the personal representative as well as the estate of the deceased.

The ancillary probate process can be less complex or just as complex as the regular probate process, depending on the circumstances of the deceased’s estate, the presence or lack of disputes between the heirs and interested parties, whether or not there was a will, and whether or not the property in Florida was included in the will.

Florida is known as a great place to retire, which is why it is common for ancillary probate to occur in Florida. Here at Boyer Law Firm, we have assisted both American and international clients with the Florida ancillary probate process. Due to our regular dealings with both international law and international clients, we have developed a system that allows you to stay in your home state or country while the ancillary probate process takes place, lessening the hassle of an already burdensome situation.

If your loved one passed away while owning property in Florida, then contact Boyer Law Firm today.

Who Can Act as the Florida Personal Representative for an Estate?

Florida personal representativeWhen someone passes away in Florida or while owning assets in Florida, then the estate of the decedent will go through the Florida probate process. Part of this process includes the appointing of a Florida personal representative to oversee the affairs of the estate.

The personal representative is usually appointed in the deceased’s last will & testament. However, if the person died without a will or the person named in the will is not legally qualified to serve as a personal representative, then the Court will appoint a Florida personal representative for the estate. Ideally, this will be the deceased spouse. If the deceased does not have a spouse or the spouse is unable or unwilling to act as the personal representative for the estate, then the Court will appoint a person close to the decedent.

A personal representative can be an individual, a bank, or a trust company, subject to certain restrictions. A personal representative holds a fiduciary duty to the estate and the heirs of the estate. This means they can be held liable to the beneficiaries for any harm suffered as a result of the estate and the probate process not being properly executed.

People who cannot serve as the personal representative of an estate include:

–          Minors
–          Convicted felons
–          A person who is not a resident of Florida and is not related to the deceased

A personal representative is legally required to hire an attorney to represent them through the probate process. If you have been named as the personal representative in the will of a deceased loved one, or if you are close to the deceased and feel that the Court should appoint you as the personal representative of the estate, then contact Boyer Law Firm’s probate attorneys today.

Florida Personal Representatives are Required to Hire an Attorney

Florida personal representativeWhen a loved on passes away and the decedent’s estate goes through the Florida formal probate administration, a Florida Personal Representative (PR) will be appointed.

This PR may be named in the Will of the deceased. If the deceased passed away without a will, known as intestate probate, or the decedent did not name a personal representative in his or her will, then the Florida Probate Judge will appoint a Florida personal representative.

If you are appointed as the Florida PR of an estate, then you are required to hire an attorney to represent you in the Florida probate process unless you are the sole interested person in the estate.

The Florida Probate Rules state, “Every guardian and every personal representative, unless the personal representative remains the sole interested person, shall be represented by an attorney admitted to practice in Florida.”

If there was an attorney named in the decedent’s will, you are not required to use that attorney. The Florida personal representative has the right to choose his own attorney.

A Florida personal representative has fiduciary duty to the estate of the deceased. If the PR does not fulfill his duties as required by the Florida Probate Rules, then he or she could be held personally liable. You must fully understand the responsibilities you are taking on in order to avoid any liability. Hiring an experienced Florida probate attorney will give you proper guidance during this procedure.

If you have been named as the personal representative of a Florida estate, then contact Boyer Law Firm, P.L. today.

Why is a Proper Florida Estate Plan so Important?

Florida estate planThe Florida probate process can be very difficult for your loved ones if you do not create a proper estate plan. Estate planning is not just a will. It can include trusts, powers of attorney, health-care surrogates, and more.

There are websites out there that claim they can assist you with estate planning, but they do not offer the same services that an Estate Planning Attorney can. First and foremost, they cannot offer you legal advice, when that is exactly what you need in order to create a proper estate plan!

When assisting you with a Florida estate plan, Boyer Law Firm, P.L. and its estate planning attorneys take the time to listen to your needs and wishes. From there they can determine the estate plan that is right for you instead of just placing you in front of an array of templates.

If you do not have a proper Florida estate plan, then you may be leaving your loved ones in a bad situation when you pass away. Remember the saying: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

This means that a poor estate plan can result in a headache for you loved ones and potentially a longer and more expensive probate process. It is never too early to begin planning. Our office has drafted estate plans for clients from their 20’s to Baby Boomers, and older.

Contact Boyer Law Firm’s estate planning attorneys today and begin a proper Florida estate plan for proper performance.

Florida Baby Boomers and Probate

As Florida Baby Boomers continue to age, there will inevitably be an increase in the amount of deaths in the United States, especially in Florida, where many baby boomers reside.

When a loved one dies, regardless of whether or not they have a will, the estate must go through a process called “probate,” with the exception of very rare cases.

Florida Baby Boomers and ProbateIf you have a family member who is a Florida baby boomer or older, then you need to start thinking about what you and your loved ones will do when they are gone, such as:

– Does your loved one have a will?
– Has your loved one appointed a personal representative for their estate?
–  Does your loved one own property in multiple states or countries? If so, each may have to be probated individually.
– Does your family have a trust that applies to the probate process

Many Florida baby boomers are “snowbirds” who are also residents of other countries or states, where they also own assets. In these cases, the decedent’s estate must be probated in more than one court.

If you have recently suffered the loss of a loved one who passed away in Florida, or possessed assets, such as a house, in Florida at the time of their death, then contact Boyer Law Firm today to see how our Florida probate attorneys can assist you.

What is Florida Ancillary Probate?

Florida Ancillary ProbateMany foreign nationals and residents of other states own property in Florida; after all, with the sandy beaches and warm weather, it is an ideal place to visit, do business or retire.

When a person passes away while owning property in Florida, then that property and any other assets of the estate that exist in Florida must go through a process called Probate. If the person passed away in another state or country, the estate must be probated where the person passed away, and then the assets in Florida must go through Florida Ancillary Probate.

“Testate” probate means that the decedent passed away with a will, and “Intestate” probate means that the decedent passed away without a will. Regardless of whether the decedent had a will when he passed away, the estate still must go through Florida Ancillary Probate if the decedent had assets, property or otherwise, in Florida.

There are two types of administration in Florida Ancillary Probate: Summary and Formal Administration. As the names indicate, Formal Administration is a more complex and time-consuming process than Summary Administration, but it is required for all probates whose assets total over $75,000.00.

Florida Probate can be a complicated process, so it is important to hire an experience Florida probate attorney to assist you with the process. If you have been named as the executor of a will or you had a family member recently pass away, then contact Boyer Law Firm today to see how we can assist you through this process.

Foreign Probate and Probate Process in Florida

Foreign Probate and Florida Probate ProcessProbate is a process for settling the deceased’s estate; it includes assessing assets, paying off debts, and distributing the remaining assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries.

If the decedent’s estate went through foreign probate in another country and the decedent had property or other assets in Florida, then the estate must also go through the probate process in Florida for those assets.

Similarly, if the decedent’s estate is goes through the probate process in Florida and the decedent had assets in another country, then the estate may be required to go through the foreign probate process in that country.

If you own property in Florida, then it is important to have a proper estate plan to make the probate process easier for your beneficiaries. These estate planning tools include wills, trusts, and more. If you have a will in another country or state, then you should still contact an estate planning attorney to ensure that your will is valid in Florida, as the requirements for validity may be different.

If you are currently acting as the executor of an estate, need to be named as the executor of an estate, or need assistance with estate planning, contact Boyer Law Firm’s estate planning attorneys today.

How Can I Contest a Will?

Challenging a will is not an easy thing because the court views a will as the last wishes and voice of the decedent. Anyone who may have something to gain from the estate has a right to contest a will, but they must have the grounds to do so.

A person may challenge a will based on one or more of the following criteria:

contest a will-          Lack of testamentary capacity: When a will is challenged on this ground, it is usually on the basis that the decedent suffered from some kind of mental incapacity, such as senility, dementia, insanity, or was under the influence of a mind-altering substance. Minors are not considered to have testamentary capacity unless they are married or serve in the military. The witnesses who signed the will usually will testify as to whether or not the decedent had testamentary capacity at the time the will was written.
–          Fraud, forgery, or undue influence: You may contest a will on this ground if the decedent was manipulated into leaving all or much of the estate to the manipulator.
–          New Trumps Old: If there is a newer, valid will than the one going through the probate process, then the new will trumps the current will. This is why dates on wills are so important.
–          Validity: In Florida, the will must be signed by two witnesses. If the will is not considered valid according to Florida state law, then you have grounds to contest it.

If you think you have grounds to contest a will currently going through probate, then you should contact a probate attorney to discuss your rights.

*Image courtesy of Stockfreeimages.com

Revocable Living Trusts

Revocable Living TrustA revocable living trust is an artificial entity used as an estate-planning tool that manages your assets during your lifetime and distributes them upon your death. It is called a revocable trust because you may modify or terminate the trust during your lifetime, as long as you are not incapacitated.

A trust is setup by a property owner, called a “grantor,” who appoints a person to manage the trust, called a “trustee.” In the case of a revocable living trust (there are other kinds of trusts), grantors usually names themselves as the primary trustee and name a successor trustee to control the trust at the time of their death.  When the grantor dies, the trust is no longer revocable.

The main attraction of a revocable living trust is to avoid the probate process.  A trust may bypass the probate process because it is said to “live on” after the grantor’s death.  In order to avoid the probate process, all of the grantor’s assets must be transferred into the trust prior to death. If all of the deceased assets are not in the trust, the estate may be subject to probate.

A living trust will also keep the distribution of the estate a private matter because it is not public record like the probate process.

A living trust will not exempt you from taxes or debts to creditors.

Creditors may claim debts from a trust up to two years after the death of the grantor. Because of this long waiting process, some trustees will submit the estate to probate simply to take advantage of the fact that creditors will only have a three month window to collect debts owed.

There are many pros and cons of a revocable living trust. If you are trying to decide whether or not one is appropriate for you, contact an Estate Planning attorney.

*Photo courtesy of Stockfreeimages.com

Florida Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney is a legal document in which a person, the “principal” gives another person, the “agent,” the authority to act on the principal’s behalf in certain circumstances. These circumstances can be narrow or broad, depending on the way the document is written.Power of Attorney

The Power of Attorney is created to perform almost any legal act that the principal cannot do, such as sell a car or home, access bank accounts, or make health care decisions. There are three kinds of POAs in Florida:

  1. Limited Power of Attorney gives the agent authority to conduct only a specific act.
  2. General Power of Attorney gives the agent a much broader authority, but there must be a list of the acts the agent is entitled to perform in the document.
  3. Durable Power of Attorney remains in effect if the principal becomes incapacitated. This is not the case with the other two forms. There must be specific language in the document stating that the power of attorney will continue if the principal becomes incapacitated. Most POAs in the state of Florida are Durable POAs.

A Springing Power of Attorney becomes effective once the principle becomes incapacitated, as deemed by a physician. Florida no longer allows for them to be created, but if the POA was written before September 30, 2011, it is still effective.

POAs should be drawn up by an attorney. Pre-printed forms are likely to fail in providing the desired protection because every principal’s needs are different.

If the agent is unsure of whether they are authorized to perform a specific act, they should check with an attorney to review the POA. If the agent performs an act they are not legally entitled to perform, they can be punished both civilly and criminally.

Under a Power of Attorney, an agent may only act on the principal’s behalf while the principal is still alive.

Source: Florida Bar

*Photo courtesy of Stockfreeimages.com

Technology of a Large Florida Firm, Personality of a Small Florida Firm

Clarity Photo Courtesy of Stockfreeimages.com

Whether you’re going to buy groceries or hiring an attorney, costs and fees are always a concern. That is why we at Boyer Law Firm insist on a written fee agreement with you, the client. We have hourly, contingency and flat fee rates, and we offer convenient online payments with Visa, MasterCard, and Paypal.

We take time to explain any questions that our clients may haven order to provide comfort for you and confidence in our firm.

Technology

We maintain all of our files in electronic format using the latest technology available to large firms, which we have chosen to acquire. Every document is scanned within 24 hours, read,Photo Courtesy of Stockfreeimages.com analyzed, and processed. We will often email you the document as well in order to keep you updated on your case. We want to make sure that we are providing for you, our client.

We have subscriptions to online, specialized legal software to access the most up-to-date legal information, case laws, and statutes that may be relevant to your case.

Our central server allows our staff to access information and documents relevant to your case from anywhere, anytime, including while in court, while traveling, and even overseas!

Our case management software allows us to schedule with greater precision. This allows us to not only stay on top of your case, but also to plan well ahead of deadlines imposed by law.

Personality

Because we are a small firm, we are able to build a lasting relationship with our clients. We understand that legal matters usually take an emotional toll on all parties involved, and we strive to show compassion in every case.

If you need legal representation regarding business law, international law, immigration, real estate or estate planning, please contact us today.

Will Executors

The death of a loved one is always a traumatic event, and as the will executor, making decisions regarding their will and estate can make the process that much more difficult.Will Executor

If you have been appointed as the fiduciary of a will, or a will executor, then you have a legal obligation to settle the deceased’s estate in a timely manner.  By hiring a Florida Probate Attorney, you can make this process easier for yourself and your loved ones.

Probate is a legal process that occurs after someone dies. It protects the rights of creditors and entitled beneficiaries.

During the probate process, it is the responsibility of the executor to prove in court the will is valid, inventory and appraise the deceased’s property, pay debts and taxes, and distribute the remaining assets to beneficiaries. This can take a few months or a few years, depending on the complexity of the deceased’s estate.

If the fiduciary fails to execute this process, then litigation will usually occur and the fiduciary will be held personally liable.

The right Probate Attorney will give you clarity, efficiency and peace of mind as you go through this difficult process. It is important to find an attorney that will not only aggressively represent you, but will also show compassion.

* Photo courtesy of Stockfreeimages.com

What Does Probate Mean?

Probate is a process for gathering the decedent’s assets, paying taxes, claims and expenses and distributing assets to beneficiaries.

Florida law establishes two types of probate administration:

  • Formal Administration, and
  • Summary Administration.

These two types of probate administrations vary depending on the size of the estate. It is important to contact a Florida probate attorney to make sure you file the correct paperwork to file with the Court.

Tackling the administration of the Estate should not be painful or overly burdensome if you hire an ethical attorney interested in a fair settlement of the affairs.

Hiring an attorney to understand the often complex lives of the decedent will often speed the distribution of those assets that do pass through the estate to the beneficiary.

Wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents must be as detailed and thorough as possible to ensure that your estate is protected. Our firm is dedicated to seeing that clients’ are protected into their estate plan. Please contact Boyer Law Firm for more details regarding probate.

Why Hire a Probate Attorney?

When your family has just suffered the loss of a loved one it is faced with hard decisions when it is most difficult to make them. Your choice of Boyer Law Firm, PLLC to assist you in settling the estate’s affairs should add clarity, efficiency and peace of mind to the guiding the settlement of your loved one’s estate through settlement and probate proceedings. Boyer Law Firm, PLLC works with the family to demystify Florida’s sometimes difficult probate procedures, laws and rules. Only through aggressive representation and compassionate care will your family ease the tension in this difficult situation.

“You’ll want to hire the attorney who regularly handles probate matters, but who also knows enough about other fields to question whether the action being taken might be affected by laws in any other areas of law. For example, if the decedent had extensive real estate holdings, the lawyer should also know something about real property law.”

Unfortunately, the law waits for no one, a decedent’s estate must be settled in a timely manner. The responsibility of who will settle the estate is determined by the Last Will and Testament of the decedent. The person named in the will to complete the task is called the executor of the estate. Through the probate proceeding (which is the process of proving the validity of the will) the court appoints the executor to be the personal representative of the estate. Hiring a qualified probate attorney should be one of the estate’s first and top priorities. Therefore if you have a probate issue please do not hesitate to contact us today at Boyer Law Firm and we will be happy to assist you in these matters.