Losing a loved one can be extremely sad and trying time. When it comes to the person’s estate and asset distribution, you want the process to go smoothly so you can focus on your grieving. If your loved one’s estate goes into probate, which is often complicated, it may take a long time to resolve.
Many people do not understand probate and which steps to follow to successfully see it through to the end of the process. Here are some of the steps you will have to take:
- Evaluating assets and identifying creditors: First, you will want to understand exactly what the assets are, including bank accounts, retirement plans, or any other accounts, and whether all the assets are in Florida or other states.
- Hire an attorney: If your loved one named an executor, it is likely that the executor has an attorney for the estate. The attorney should specialize in estate planning and probate. The attorney will want to see copies of all relevant papers, including asset statements and information on creditors. The attorney needs the papers so that they can figure out which assets need to go through probate. The beneficiaries will receive a list of all assets that are named in the will.
- Pleadings: The attorney will create pleadings (paperwork) at the beginning of the probate process. After the pleadings are filed, you will receive letters of administration, which are considered evidence to be presented to financial institutions. A court-appointed representative will act on behalf of the estate.
- Notification: As part of the probate process, all creditors must be notified that the person has died. This is done to give them an opportunity to make a claim against the estate.
- Close the estate: Before you can close the estate, you must file a tax return for the estate for the part of the year that the deceased was alive. All receipts, withdrawals, and distributions related to the estate are also submitted to the beneficiaries.
Counsel from a knowledgeable Tampa probate attorney
If you are having difficulty with your loved one’s estate, it may be beneficial to consult a Tampa probate attorney who can walk you through the process and make sure that your rights are protected as well as hopefully ensuring that the estate is protected.