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Legacy Protection Lawyers St. Petersburg Estate Planning, Probate & Trust Lawyer

Common Misconceptions About Probate In Florida


It is a sad but true fact that most people have experienced the death of someone they care about or they know somebody who has been through the process of grieving a loved one and managing the deceased loved one’s legal affairs.  Due to this, there are many misconceptions about the probate in Florida that are simply untrue. Whether you are responsible for managing the estate of someone who has passed away, or you are creating your own estate plan, understanding the facts can help ensure the process moves forward smoothly. Below, our St. Petersburg probate and trust administration lawyer outlines some of the common misconceptions and the truth behind them.

All Property Goes Through Probate After You Pass Away 

Contrary to popular belief, not all of your property has to go through the probate process after you pass away. Any property held in trust can be distributed to your beneficiaries without approval of the court system and any assets you co-own with someone else are also not subject to the probate process. Lastly, if you have assets such as a life insurance policy that enable you to designate a beneficiary, the beneficiary can receive the  proceeds without having to go through probate.

A Will Negates the Need for Probate 

Many people draft a Will thinking that it will protect their property from the probate process. Unfortunately, this is not true. After you pass away, your Last Will and Testament  must be filed with the probate court. A probate judge will then review the Will and admit the Will to the court, which means the court will determine that the will is valid. The court will then appoint your Personal Representative nominated in your Will to be in charge of your estate so that your Personal Representative can distribute your property according to your wishes within the Will.

Without a Will, My Property Goes to the State 

This misconception likely came from the fact that those who die without a Will are known to have died ‘intestate’ in Florida. This does not mean that your property goes to the state. It simply means that if you pass away without a will, the laws of the state will dictate how your property is distributed. In Florida, this means that your surviving spouse and children will be the first to receive your property and then your closest living relatives if you are unmarried and do not have children.

The Probate Court Must Approve My Personal Representative 

When drafting a will, you name a personal representative who will manage your estate in the event that you pass away. It is easy to assume that the probate court must comply with your wishes, but that is not the case. State law places strict requirements on who can act as a personal representative and if you name someone who does not meet these requirements, the court can deny that person the opportunity to serve as Personal Representative and require that someone else serve instead. For example, if you name a minor child as your personal representative, the court will not approve this request.

Our Probate and Trust Administration Lawyer in St. Petersburg Can Provide the Legal Advice You Need 

There are many misconceptions about probate and our St. Petersburg probate and trust administration lawyer can advise on the truth about the law. At Legacy Protection Lawyers, LLP, our seasoned attorneys can advise on how to avoid probate, and how to ensure the process is as smooth as possible if it is necessary. Call us today at 727-471-5868 or contact us online to request a consultation and to get more information.


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