FLORIDA PROBATE ATTORNEY

After a person passes away, property is often passed along to family members of the deceased. Unfortunately, certain disputes may arise even when the decedent has a solid estate plan in place. For example, issues can occur regarding the actions of the personal representative or the trustee. Further, the prior mental state of the deceased may be called into question. Also, issues may be present with creditors, beneficiaries, etc. There are other potential unforeseen consequences and laws regarding probate, some of which are specific to the State of Florida. As a result, you want an experienced Florida probate attorney protecting your interests throughout this process.

Regardless of the complexity of a case, the probate attorneys Di Pietro Partners are well equipped in guiding you through this process. If you or someone you know needs help with probate in Florida, contact our lawyers for a free case evaluation. 1.800.712.8462.

Probate Administration

One primary aspect of probate involves probate administration. Simply put, probate administration involves the distribution of an individual’s assets after they pass away. According to Florida probate law, after an individual dies, all assets of the decedent must be transferred out of his or her name. Assets that are jointly owned, have a beneficiary designation or that are payable on death, do not have to go through probate. However, all other assets that are titled solely in the decedent’s name must go through the probate legal process and this can often take between six (6) to twelve (12) months.

An attorney’s assistance in the probate administration process is vital. For instance, an attorney understands how best to “marshal” the assets, i.e., determine which assets are indeed part of the estate; how to properly file an Inventory and Appraisal of the assets; when, and in what manner, to pay the estate’s taxes, debts, and remaining liabilities; and how best to distribute those assets remaining in the estate’s inventory after all other processes have been concluded.

The lawyers at Di Pietro Partners help clients all over Florida with probate administration. This includes individuals that are experiencing issues due to a family member passing away without a will.

Probate Litigation

Another main aspect of probate is known as probate litigation. As the name suggests, probate litigation involves legal issues with the administration of assets, or another part of the probate process. This is also commonly referred to as “estate litigation.” These legal issues may include: contested wills, trust litigation, disputes among beneficiaries, disputes over adult/child guardianship, and more.

Our law firm has extensive trial experience, particularly, in matters related to estate, probate, and trust litigation. We represent beneficiaries, personal representatives, trustees, creditors, or other interested persons throughout Florida. Specific probate disputes our law firm handles include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Challenges to the validity of a will or trust based on the competency of the party making the will or trust
  • Questions regarding whether a fiduciary has breached his or her duties to the estate, trust or to the beneficiaries
  • Challenges to the validity of a will or trust based upon the existence of additional or subsequent will or trust
  • Challenges to the validity of a will or trust based upon undue influence exhibited over the decedent prior to death
  • Questions regarding whether a fiduciary has breached his or her duties to the estate, trust or to the beneficiaries
  • Creditor disputes

When Someone Dies Without A Will In Florida

When someone dies without a valid will in Florida, their assets are declared “intestate.” It’s important to note, that “intestate” does not mean that the property now belongs to the State of Florida. In fact, Florida has a specific process in determining who receives the decedent’s assets in the absence of a valid will. The full process can be found in Chapter 732 of The Florida Statutes. This process is very in-depth and often causes confusion/disagreements among beneficiaries. As a result, it’s vital to work with a Florida probate attorney that’s experienced with issues involving probate court/intestate succession.

Below is a summary of Florida’s probate process in the absence of a valid will.

  • When the decedent has a surviving spouse and has no living children, grandchildren, parents, etc, then the spouse shall receive the entire estate.
  • If the decedent has a spouse and also has one or more living family members who are family members of the spouse (i.e children), the spouse shall receive the entire estate.
  • If the spouse has additional living immediate family members that are not immediate family of  the deceased individual, the spouse shall receive one-half of the estate with the other half going to the spouse’s descendants.
  • In cases where the decedent was not married at the time of their passing, the immediate family members will receive the entire estate. The assets will then be divided in accordance with Florida law.
  • If the deceased person was not married and also has no living immediate family members, the inheritance will pass to surviving parents of the decedent.
  • In cases where someone dies without any surviving close family members, spouses, or relatives, the State of Florida will search for more remote heirs in accordance with intestate law.
  • As discussed, this is a summarized version of the Florida probate law specific to intestate succession and wills. The full laws are more in-depth and have various exceptions depending on several circumstances. To put this in perspective, here’s an excerpt from section 732.108 of the Florida Statutes regarding adopted children/children born out of wedlock.

“For the purpose of intestate succession by or from an adopted person, the adopted person is a descendant of the adopting parent and is one of the natural kindred of all members of the adopting parent’s family, and is not a descendant of his or her natural parents, nor is he or she one of the kindred of any member of the natural parent’s family or any prior adoptive parent’s family, except that:

(a) Adoption of a child by the spouse of a natural parent has no effect on the relationship between the child and the natural parent or the natural parent’s family.

(b) Adoption of a child by a natural parent’s spouse who married the natural parent after the death of the other natural parent has no effect on the relationship between the child and the family of the deceased natural parent.

(c) Adoption of a child by a close relative, as defined in s. 63.172(2), has no effect on the relationship between the child and the families of the deceased natural parents…” (The Florida Legislature, 2018, Adopted persons and persons born out of wedlock.)

As you can see, this process is very in-depth and often causes confusion/disagreements among beneficiaries. As a result, it’s vital to work with a Florida probate attorney that’s experienced with issues involving probate court/intestate succession.

Where We Take Probate Cases

The primary office of Di Pietro Partners is located in Fort Lauderdale, FL. In addition to the primary office, there are satellite offices in Orlando, Miami, West Palm Beach, Fort Myers, Tampa, and Jacksonville. Although these are our physical locations, we handle Probate cases anywhere in Florida. Additionally, our law firm works remotely with out-of-state clients. Therefore, if you’re looking for an experienced probate lawyer to examine your case, contact our law firm today.

Talk to a Florida Probate Attorney

David Di Pietro is an AV Preeminent® rated trial lawyer and experienced Florida probate attorney. This experience is vital for both avoiding probate of assets when possible, and handling complicated probate disputes. Regardless of the complexity of a case, the lawyers at Di Pietro Partners, LLP are well equipped in guiding you through this process. If you wish to speak with an attorney directly, contact us at 1.800.712.8462.