When someone passes away without a will in the State of Florida, assets are distributed through the probate court system. It’s important to note that Florida Law requires that a lawyer be present throughout this process in order to ensure fair distribution of the assets of the decedent.

Di Pietro Partners is a premier law firm for probate and estate cases in Florida. If you have issues involving probate in Fort Myers, talk to one of our experienced probate lawyers today.

Our Fort Myers Probate Lawyers on TV

Attorney David Di Pietro appeared on national TV to provide his legal insight for the infamous Brittany Spears probate litigation dispute involving conservatorship. David is the managing partner at Di Pietro Partners and is experienced in probate cases all across Florida including the City of Fort Myers.

  • + Probate Definitions

    To help readers better understand the context of the page, here are some of the most common terms found within this content and/or used throughout the probate process.

    Administration – This refers to the legal distribution of someone’s assets in Probate Court after they pass away.

    County Clerk of Court – In Florida, most probate hearings are done through the County Clerk of Court in the County in which the decedent resides at the time of their death. This is not to be confused with an actual clerk in the courtroom.

    Decedent – A deceased individual

    Intestate – When someone dies without a valid will, the State of Florida declares the property of the deceased “intestate.” This will be discussed further in the page.

    Probate Court – This is commonly used to describe the court at which the probate hearing takes place even though most hearings are done at the County Clerk of Court.

    Personal Representative – Someone who’s legally appointed to oversee the distribution of assets from a deceased person’s estate.

    Beneficiary/Beneficiaries – An individual, or group of individuals who are named in a will/estate plan to receive a certain amount of someone’s assets after this person passes away or becomes unable to manage their assets.

    Executor – Someone written in a will or delegated by the court to take care of a deceased individual’s financial obligations.

    Notice of Administration – Formal notice given to beneficiaries and other interested parties by the personal representative. The notice is legally required in Florida and serves the purpose of providing specific details on the probate proceedings.

    Probate Litigation – Basically, this is used to describe a legal dispute during the probate process. The most common types of probate disputes include: challenges to wills/trusts, legal disputes over guardianship, etc.

Fort Myers Probate Lawyer Legal Services

The Florida probate lawyers at Di Pietro Partners offer a multitude of legal services related to probate in Fort Myers. These legal services include but are not limited to:

Probate Administration: This involves managing the probate process, including filing paperwork with the court, notifying creditors and heirs, and distributing assets to beneficiaries. An attorney can help guide the executor of the estate through this process and ensure everything is done according to Florida law.

Trust Administration: Trustees have a legal responsibility to distribute assets within the trust to the named beneficiaries in accordance with the wishes of the deceased. It’s vital to work with an attorney that’s experienced with probate and trusts to ensure the correct process is followed.

Trust Litigation: Trust litigation lawsuits involve legal disputes over the administration of trusts. For example, if someone believes they aren’t receiving a proper share of assets within the trust, or have legal objections regarding the actions of a trustee, they may file a legal dispute and the estate may enter litigation. Our probate and trust litigation lawyers have decades of experience representing trustees, beneficiaries, and other parties involved in trust litigation lawsuits.

Will Contests: Sometimes, disputes arise over the validity of a will or the intentions of the deceased. An attorney can help represent interested parties in these disputes and advocate for their rights.

Estate & Probate Litigation: In some cases, disputes may arise over the distribution of assets or the actions of an executor or trustee. An attorney can help represent clients in these disputes and work to resolve them through negotiation or litigation.

Intestate Succession (Dying Without a Will) – Intestate succession refers to the State process of distributing a person’s assets when they die without a will, or trust. When a person passes away without a written document detailing how to distribute their estate, the matter goes to probate court. The State of Florida requires that an attorney is present throughout this process. Since the process involved with intestate succession is very in-depth, it’s vital to work with an attorney who’s experienced with probate cases.

Guardianship: If a person becomes incapacitated and unable to make decisions for themselves, a court may appoint a guardian to make decisions on their behalf. An attorney can help clients navigate the guardianship process and ensure the best interests of the incapacitated person are represented.

Overall, probate legal services in Fort Myers are focused on helping clients navigate the legal complexities of the probate process and ensuring that the wishes of the deceased are carried out in a timely and appropriate manner.

Probating A Will

When it comes to probating a will in Florida, the process is fairly straightforward. Depending on the value of the decedent’s estate, there are three primary types of administration. This value is calculated by quantifying the total amount of property owned by the deceased individual that’s going through the probate process.

Formal Administration – This is typically the most common type of administration used in probating a will. This administration applies to estates valued over $75,000.

Summary Administration – This form of probate administration is used when the total estate value is $75,000 or less. It’s essentially an expedited version of the probate process.

Disposition Without Administration – This version of probate can only be used when the decedent did not leave behind any real estate property and the assets that can be probated are valued below the costs of probate proceedings themselves.

Our Fort Myers Probate Attorneys Answer Your Questions

Whether you’re a beneficiary in a decedent’s estate, or a loved one passed away without a will, you most likely will have questions about Florida’s probate process.

The probate attorneys at Di Pietro Partners understand that this is most likely a confusing and overwhelming time for you; thus, for the benefit of the reader, we’ve done our best to provide answers to some of the most frequently asked probate questions.

Professional group photo for the staff of Di Pietro Partners. The owner, David Di Pietro is in the middle in a navy blue suit and has several of his attorneys on standing on either side

Fort Myers Probate FAQs

  • + Understanding Probate

    Probate is a judicial process settling a deceased person’s estate. It includes verifying the will, listing the deceased’s property, valuing it, clearing debts and taxes, and distributing the remaining assets according to the will or state legislation. Smaller estates can sometimes bypass probate via routes such as joint ownership or living trusts.

  • + Probate Lawyer Defined

    A probate or estate lawyer assists executors, administrators, or beneficiaries through the probate process after a person’s death. Their duties cover estate planning, life insurance proceeds collection, valuation and securing the deceased’s property, debt settlement, legal document preparation, and asset distribution according to the will or state law. The estate’s complexity and local regulations can affect their role.

  • + Probate Laws in Fort Myers

    In Fort Myers, Florida, probate laws are derived from the Florida Probate Code. Main points include formal administration for larger estates, summary administration for smaller or older estates, limited scenarios of disposition without administration, special regulations for primary residences, and state laws for asset distribution if there’s no will. Probate issues are managed by the Lee County court. Always seek advice from a Fort Myers probate attorney for accurate guidance.

  • + Probate Duration in Fort Myers

    In Fort Myers, Florida, the probate process can span from a few months to over a year, influenced by factors such as the estate’s complexity, any will disputes, resolution of debts and taxes, and the court’s schedule. For a more accurate estimate, it’s best to consult a local probate attorney.

  • + Intestate Death in Fort Myers

    If a person dies without a will in Fort Myers, Florida, their estate is divided following Florida’s intestate succession laws. If a spouse and descendants survive, they share the estate. A surviving spouse inherits everything if there are no descendants. Descendants inherit everything if there’s no surviving spouse. Parents inherit everything if there are no surviving spouse or descendants. Siblings inherit everything if there are no surviving spouse, descendants, or parents. More complex scenarios involving half-siblings, grandparents, or distant relatives require a probate attorney’s consultation.

  • + Fort Myers Probate Court

    In Fort Myers, Florida, probate cases are overseen by the Probate Division of the Twelfth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida in Lee County. This court supervises estate management, including asset distribution according to a will or the state’s intestacy laws if there’s no will. It’s recommended to engage legal counsel when dealing with the probate process.

  • + Cost of a Fort Myers Probate Lawyer

    The cost of a probate lawyer in Fort Myers varies widely, depending on factors like the case’s complexity, the lawyer’s experience, and the law firm’s fee structure. Lawyers may charge an hourly rate or a flat fee, or a percentage of the estate’s value.

    Hourly rates for probate lawyers in Fort Myers typically range from $200 to $400, though more experienced or specialized lawyers might charge more. Flat fees can range from $2,500 to over $10,000, contingent on the case specifics.

    For straightforward, uncontested probate cases, costs might be between $2,500 and $5,000. However, complex or disputed cases could cost significantly more, even over $10,000.

    In summary, the expense of hiring a probate lawyer in Fort Myers can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands, depending on the situation. At Di Pietro Partners, our probate attorneys offer a free 30-minute consultation where we can discuss your individual case including fees and payment arrangements transparently.

Dying Without a Will in Fort Myers

When someone dies without a valid will, their assets are declared intestate. It’s important to note that “intestate” does not mean that the property now belongs to the State. In fact, Florida has a specific process in determining who receives the decedent’s assets in the absence of a valid will. Here’s a simplified flowchart showing who receives assets when someone passes away without a will in Florida.

Flowchart representation of Florida intestacy laws for probate without a will. The infographic shows which family member receives the estate starting with the spouse down through the entire paternal and maternal family of the decedent.

  • 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.

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 intestate succession.

Fort Myers Probate Litigation Attorney

A Fort Myers probate litigation attorney specializes in managing disputes and contested matters arising during the probate process in Fort Myers, Florida. Probate involves administering a deceased person’s estate, settling debts, and distributing assets to heirs or beneficiaries. Disputes can sometimes occur, requiring the expertise of a probate litigation attorney.

Key tasks performed by a Fort Myers probate litigation attorney include:

  1. Representing clients: The attorney represents parties in probate litigation, such as beneficiaries, heirs, personal representatives, executors, administrators, or creditors of the estate.
  2. Assessing will validity: The attorney may investigate the proper execution, mental competence, or potential undue influence or fraud related to the will if its validity is disputed.
  3. Handling will contests: The attorney advocates for their client’s interests and argues their case in court when a will is contested.
  4. Resolving disputes among beneficiaries and heirs: The attorney helps resolve conflicts among beneficiaries or heirs regarding asset distribution or will interpretation.
  5. Addressing creditor claims: The attorney assists in resolving disputes between the estate and creditors, ensuring valid claims are paid and disputing invalid ones.
  6. Advising on fiduciary duties: The attorney advises personal representatives, executors, or administrators on their responsibilities and defends them if accused of breaching fiduciary duties.
  7. Negotiating and mediating settlements: Often, the attorney negotiates and mediates settlements between disputing parties to avoid a trial.
  8. Litigating in court: If a settlement isn’t reached, the attorney represents their client’s interests in court by presenting evidence, examining witnesses, and making legal arguments.

In summary, a Fort Myers probate litigation attorney guides clients through probate disputes, representing their interests in court or during settlement negotiations. They offer legal advice, guidance, and advocacy to ensure a fair probate process in compliance with Florida law.

Filing Fort Myers Probate Cases

The court that’s responsible for probate in Fort Myers as well as the rest of Lee County is the Twentieth Judicial Circuit of Florida’s Probate Division. Our law firm is highly experienced with probate cases within this court system.

Twentieth Judicial Circuit of Florida
2075 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard
Ft. Myers , FL 33901
Google Maps Directions

Trust Administration

Trust administration refers to the process of managing assets within a trust. A trust’s main objective is to safeguard assets and effectively manage and distribute them to the trustees named in the document. Trusts also offer ongoing benefits to beneficiaries throughout their lives.

Trusts are typically categorized as either revocable or irrevocable, with three main types commonly used in Florida.

Living Trust: The most frequent type of trust, it can be established as either revocable or irrevocable. This type governs the handling of specific assets during a person’s lifetime and their distribution after the individual’s death.

Testamentary Trust: Also known as a “testamentary will,” this trust is created within a will and only comes into effect after the person’s death.

Domestic Asset Protection Trust (DAPT): This trust safeguards assets against creditors and protects assets from a spouse if a marriage ends.

In summary, trust administration involves managing assets within a trust to safeguard them and ensure they are effectively distributed to trustees. Trusts can offer beneficiaries ongoing advantages throughout their lifetime.

Talk With A Fort Myers Probate Lawyer

Di Pietro Partners is an AV Preeminent® rated law firm that specializes in issues involving Florida probate. This includes simple estate administration as well as complex litigation.

We are dedicated to serving Lee County as well as many other locations throughout the State of Florida. Contact one of our experienced attorneys today.

Please note that our Fort Myers office location is available via appointment only.

Fort Myers Probate Office
9160 Forum Corporate Parkway
Suite 350
Fort Myers, FL 33905
Get Directions