When a person passes away, the courts need to figure out what to do with their estate. If the deceased left an estate plan, then he or she would have appointed someone to look after their estate once they were gone. However, if there was no one appointed, then the courts will appoint someone to serve as the executor or representative of the estate to help with estate administration. If you ever find yourself in such a situation, this article is designed to give you an idea of what you will need to do under Florida law.
As the direct representative of an estate, the first thing you will need to do for the estate administration is to collect all the necessary documents. The most common documents are as follows:
- The Estate Plan. The plan that the deceased created and left before their death. If there is an estate plan available, this will guide you on how to divide up the assets in accordance with the deceased’s wishes.
- Death Certificates. The death certificate is a legal document declaring the deceased is, in fact, no longer alive and will also list the time, day, and cause of death. A direct representative should order multiple certificates as they will be needed throughout the probate process.
- Deeds. If the deceased held any real estate, then the deeds will be needed.
- Titles. If the deceased owned any vehicles such as cars, boats, or planes, then those titles will also be needed.
- Life Insurance Policies. If the deceased owned any life insurance policies, those policies will need to be collected as part of the probate process.
- Financial Documents. It will be important to collect financial documents such as bank statements, tax returns, and debts.
Performing the Duties of a Personal Representative
Florida law requires the personal representative to seek the counsel of an attorney. This ensures the personal representative has the necessary guidance needed to transfer assets and closeout financial matters related to the estate. Some of the things that a personal representative will need an attorney’s assistance to do are as follows:
- Access password-protected items such as financial accounts, social media accounts, safe deposit boxes, storage units, and vehicles.
- Secure all real estate holdings
- File the estate plan with the Clerk of the Courts
- Change address of the deceased to c/o the direct representative
- Seek out potential creditors but do not pay without the counsel of an estate attorney.
- File a tax return on behalf of the deceased.
- Inventory the estate and prepare an accounting for the heirs.
Is There a Minimum Threshold to Probate?
Under Florida law, if the deceased had any property under their name, then it must pass through the probate. Florida law does not set a minimum value of the property. For example, if a person dies with only a car to their name, but the car was in such a situation that the value of it is just a few hundred dollars, then the estate would still need to be probated.
If you are named as a direct representative to probate a deceased person’s estate, contact Dowd Law. Our experienced attorneys will ensure you are following the law and assist you with the process of probating the estate.