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How to begin the probate process

On Behalf of | Jan 7, 2020 | Estate Planning |

When a person dies in Florida, a family member or another appointed person will be responsible for starting the probate process. If the deceased individual left a will, the first step in the probate process is to read it. The will may contain important information such as the existence of a trust as well as who the trustee and beneficiaries are. It may also contain information regarding how an individual wants his or her body to be handled.

The next step is to create a list of beneficiaries and to contact them as quickly as possible. It will also be necessary to create an inventory of a deceased person’s assets. These assets may include a home, car or money remaining in a bank or brokerage account. In addition, there should be an inventory of debt balances left unpaid or other liabilities that may have existed when a person passed.

Liabilities could include an unpaid mortgage balance, credit card balance or outstanding tax debt. Whoever is overseeing the estate will need to determine which bills need to be paid right away and which will be paid at a later date. Once that step is completed, an individual will meet with an estate lawyer, fill out probate paperwork and provide copies of the probate orders to banks and government agencies.

Working with a probate and estate administration lawyer may be ideal for those who are attempting to settle a deceased relative’s affairs. An attorney may provide guidance as to resolving creditor claims or legal challenges made by family members during the probate process. An attorney may also be able to answer questions an executor has about paying bills, filing tax returns or distributing assets to beneficiaries of the estate.