Orlando Probate Attorneys

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Probate FAQs

Probate definition

What Is Probate?

Probate is a legal process that occurs after an individual’s death through which their estate is administered and distributed according to their will or applicable laws. It involves validating the deceased’s will, identifying and appraising assets, settling outstanding debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets to beneficiaries.

Probate court oversees the entire process to resolve any legal disputes that may arise. Probate can be a complex and time-consuming procedure, often involving Orlando probate attorneys and various court proceedings. To avoid probate, some individuals choose alternative estate planning methods such as trusts or joint ownership of property.

When Is Probate Required?

Probate is a legal process that becomes necessary after the death of an individual to ensure the proper administration and distribution of their estate. While not all estates require probate, there are specific situations in which probate is needed. Understanding when probate is necessary can help families navigate the complexities of estate administration during a difficult time.

Validating a Will

When an individual leaves a valid will, it typically needs to go through probate to authenticate its legitimacy and enforce its provisions. The probate court supervises the process and ensures that the deceased’s wishes are respected and implemented according to the law.

No Will or Trust

If an individual dies intestate (without a will or a trust), probate becomes essential to distribute their assets according to the intestacy laws of their state or country. Probate court will appoint an administrator to manage the estate and ensure that the decedent’s assets are distributed fairly among the legal heirs. Hiring the right Orlando trust administration attorneys can help minimize frustrations and confusion during the probate process.

Sole Ownership of Assets

Probate is often required when the deceased owned assets solely in their name without any joint ownership, beneficiaries, or payable-on-death designations. In such cases, probate helps transfer ownership of these assets to the rightful beneficiaries.

Unresolved Debts & Taxes

Our Orlando capital gains tax reduction attorneys will work to settle outstanding debts or taxes of the deceased. The executor or administrator is responsible for identifying, notifying, and paying creditors, as well as filing tax returns and paying any taxes owed by the estate.

Disputes & Claims

If there are disputes among beneficiaries or claims against the estate, probate helps resolve these issues through court intervention. The probate process provides a forum for parties to voice their concerns and ensures that matters are resolved legally and equitably.

Identifying & Appraising Assets

Probate can be essential for locating and appraising the deceased’s assets, ensuring that they are distributed accurately and fairly among the beneficiaries. Executors or administrators are responsible for identifying and valuing all assets in the estate.

Man and woman workers going over paperwork

How Can I Avoid Probate Court?

Avoiding probate court can save time, money, and potential disputes among heirs. While probate serves an important purpose, there are several estate planning strategies that individuals can employ to bypass the probate process and ensure a smoother transfer of assets.

Living Trusts

A living trust allows an individual to transfer their assets into a trust during their lifetime. Upon death, the trust assets are distributed directly to the beneficiaries without going through probate. The trust is managed by a trustee, who follows the trust’s terms for distributing assets. Our Orlando wills and trusts attorneys can assist with the establishment and execution of your revocable trust to help you avoid the headaches of probate.

Joint Ownership

Owning property jointly with rights of survivorship ensures that upon the death of one owner, the surviving owner automatically inherits the decedent’s share, bypassing probate.

Payable-on-Death & Transfer-on-Death Designations

Financial accounts and securities can be set up with payable-on-death (POD) or transfer-on-death (TOD) designations, which allow assets to pass directly to named beneficiaries upon the owner’s death, avoiding probate.

Beneficiary Designations

Retirement accounts, life insurance policies, and annuities often have beneficiary designations that enable these assets to pass directly to the named beneficiaries, without probate intervention.


Transferring assets as gifts during one’s lifetime can reduce the size of the estate subject to probate. However, gifting may have tax implications, so it is essential to consult with a financial or legal professional before proceeding.

What Does a Probate Attorney Do?

A probate attorney, also known as an estate attorney or trust attorney, specializes in guiding executors, administrators, and beneficiaries through the probate process. Their primary responsibilities include interpreting the deceased’s will, assisting with the appointment of a personal representative, navigating the court proceedings, and ensuring compliance with legal requirements.

They help in identifying and appraising assets, settling outstanding debts and taxes, and distributing assets to beneficiaries. Additionally, probate attorneys often provide legal advice on estate planning and asset protection, helping clients create wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents to minimize complications and avoid probate when possible.

Find the Right Probate Attorney in Orlando, FL

When a loved one dies the last thing you want to think about is the probating of their assets. We understand that this is an emotional time and that there is a grieving process that you are going through. Since we understand this, we will make the probate process as simple and orderly as possible. Below is a general overview of the process involved in probating your loved one’s assets once he or she has died.

When you contact our law firm about the recent death of your family member, we will send you the Decedent’s Estate Organizer. You can also find this handout on our web site at www.jflicklawyer.com. Please bring the completed Decedent’s Estate Organizer along with the required items listed on the first page of the organizer, to your first meeting with one of our Orlando asset protection attorneys. The first meeting with the attorney will allow the attorney to review your specific situation and give you recommendations and possible options for proceeding with the probate. The attorney will also give you estimates of the cost and time involved during this first meeting.

Orlando Probate Litigation & Administration

After your initial meeting with the attorney, you will receive an Engagement Letter from us. This letter should be read, signed, and returned to us along with the retainer payment shortly after you receive it. Once we receive the signed engagement letter and retainer payment, we will draft the Opening Documents to begin the probate process. When the opening documents are ready for you to sign, we will schedule a meeting to review the opening documents and you will sign them at that time. This meeting is brief and typically takes 30 minutes.

The Clerk of Courts in the County of your family member’s death will issue Letters of Administration once the opening documents have been reviewed by the Deputy Clerk and the Circuit Judge. This will be the document that gives the appointed Personal Representative the authority to manage the assets of the decedent. This is also the time when we determine which assets will have to run through the estate and therefore be included in the Inventory of the estate. We will also be instructing you on how to open an Estate Checking Account. The Estate Checking Account will be used to pay the decedent’s bills and eventually to distribute the assets to the beneficiaries.

Once the Letters of Administration have been issued, we will be required to publish a Notice to Creditors in the appropriate publication approved by the Court in the County of the decedent’s death. This Notice to Creditors will give a 90-day period for all creditors of your loved one’s estate to file a Claim with the Clerk of Courts. This is an important part of the probate process, and this is why probate takes at least 6 months from beginning to end and can take as long as one year.

How Long Should I Wait to Start the Probate Process?

Frequently the question comes up over how long the family members should wait to open the probate process for their deceased loved one. The answer to that depends on personal circumstances and can vary for each specific situation. Even if you and your family must delay the probate process, we encourage you to deposit the Last Will and Testament of your loved one for safekeeping with the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the county of your loved one’s death as soon as possible.

The original Last Will and Testament should be delivered to the Courthouse in person by family members and you will have to pay in cash. The fee is about $6.00 depending on the county. It would also be wise to obtain one certified copy of the Original Last Will and Testament at that time. The cost for obtaining one certified copy of the Last Will and Testament can vary by county but is typically one dollar per page and two dollars to certify.

Orlando, FL Probate Services

Our law firm offers a free consultation for prospective and new clients that we refer to as our Meet-and-Greet. This is a complimentary meeting that lasts about 15-20 minutes and is meant to let the client and attorney determine if they would like to work with one another. During this meeting, you can explain your situation to the attorney you would be working with. The attorney can then determine if this is a matter our office can handle. We currently serve clients throughout Orlando, FL, Orange County, and Central Florida. Call or submit a request through our website to request a meet-and-greet.

Schedule a Meet & Greet

Call or submit a form request to schedule a meeting with one of our attorneys. We look forward to speaking with you.

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