Probate & Estate Administration Attorney

Serving the Tampa Bay Area Including Tampa, St Petersburg & Clearwater 

At LegalJourney law firm we will work with you on getting your personal and financial affairs in order during your lifetime and making plans for your passing. While we often suggest establishing a trust as part of an estate plan, we also have expertise in preparing wills. A will basically specifies your wishes concerning the handling of your affairs at the end of life.

What is Probate?

At the end of life, an estate often goes through a legal proceeding called probate or estate administration where the assets of the deceased are managed and distributed. 

The probate process can be long and depends on the size and complexity of the estate. Probating an estate involves a number of steps starting with filing a petition with the probate court, notifying the heirs under the will (or legal heirs if no will is in place) and requesting the court to appoint a personal representative or executor.

When the court appoints a personal representative, it issues Letters of Administration, which give that individual the legal authority to settle the estate. He or she gathers and inventories assets, pays debts and taxes, and eventually distributes the remaining assets to the beneficiaries.

Unfortunately, it is fairly common for someone to contest the will during the probate process. This typically occurs when a later will changes the distribution plan of a prior will or in cases where children receive different shares under the will. Contests can also be brought against the person appointed as Executor. In any event, a will contest can be an expensive legal proceeding and even cause hardship for family members.

The probate process for each estate is unique, but usually involves the following steps:

  •   Filing of a petition with the proper probate court.
  •   Notice to heirs under the will or to statutory heirs (if no will exists).
  •   Petition to appoint Personal Representative/Executor (in the case of a will) or Administrator for the estate.
  •   Inventory and appraisal of estate assets by Personal Representative/Executor/Administrator.
  •   Payment of estate debt to rightful creditors.
  •   Sale of estate assets.
  •   Payment of estate taxes, if applicable.

Final distribution of assets to heirs. Florida has three types of proceedings to transfer decedents assets:

1. No Probate: Disposition Without Administration: Allows someone who paid for the person’s final expenses - the funeral and expenses of the last illness – to be reimbursed from the assets of the estate. Fla. Stat. 735.301. Only available for small estates, with no real estate, and remaining assets are either exempt from creditor claims or are less then final expenses

2. Summary Administration: Available if (a) the value of the decedent’s entire estate subject to administration in this state, exclusive of exempt property, does not exceed $75,000; or (b) the decedent has been dead for more than two years, regardless of the size of the estate. F.S. 735.201(2).

3. Formal Administration: Must be used if the decedent’s estate does not qualify for summary administration because the decedent’s estate exceeds $75,000 or the decedent has been dead for less than two years.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Probate an Estate?

In Florida, a personal representative, unless the personal representative remains the sole interested person, must be represented by counsel admitted to practice in Florida. Fla. Prob. R. 5.030 (a).

The LegalJourney law firm knows all the issues involved in estate administration and has years of experience with the legal proceedings in the Florida Probate Courts. We understand the grief families endure after the death of a love one is an emotional challenge and offer them compassion and sound legal guidance during this difficult time.

Attorney Karnardo Garnett represents clients with their Estate Planning, Elder Law and Asset Protection needs throughout the Tampa Bay Area, serving all of the bay area, including but not limited to Tampa, Brandon, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Gibsonton, Riverview, Oldsmar, Safety Harbor, Hillsborough County, and Pinellas County, FL

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2002 W. Cleveland St, Tampa , FL 33606
| Phone: 813.344.5769 | 888.954.5769

Estate Planning | Elder Law/Medicaid Planning | Planning for Children | Probate / Estate Administration | Guardianships | Special Needs Planning | Estate Tax Planning | Estate Litigation | Asset Protection


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2002 W. Cleveland St, Tampa, FL 33606 | Phone: 813.344.5769