When a loved one dies, family members are often uncertain of the procedure that must be followed in order to distribute the decedent's monetary assets and settle the estate in accordance with his or her wishes. Often, family members contact the attorney after they have taken steps to initiate the process. A knowledgeable probate attorney can actually help reduce estate settlement costs by assisting with the determination of who should be in charge, evaluating whether a court proceeding (probate) is required, determining which debts and expenses should be paid, establishing an order of priority if there are not sufficient funds to pay all of the creditor claims and helping the heirs sort through the estate settlement and probate proceedings.
Deborah Doliner P.A. provides professional representation to clients throughout the estate administration process, including determining if probate is needed. We serve individuals and families throughout Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties. Whether you are the personal representative of the estate, the trustee of the decent's trust or a beneficiary, we will guide you through all necessary steps to settle your loved one's estate — even if probate is not required.
Representing You Throughout The Legal Process
We are dedicated to providing guidance on the administration of the decedent's estate as well as ensuring you understand your rights, responsibilities and obligations. The exact process for settling an estate varies from case to case, but may include representation for the following:
- Determining if probate is required — Probate can be required regardless of whether or not the decedent left a will and is often necessary when the decedent owned assets in his or her individual name or when assets do not have a valid beneficiary designation. Other situations also call for probate, and we can carefully evaluate the situation to determine the necessary approach.
- Settling the estate using the appropriate type of probate — Options include:
- Disposition without administration – Used for estates valued at $6,000 or less. An attorney is not required for this process.
- Summary administration — Used for estates valued at $75,000 or less or those where the decedent has been deceased for more than two years. A personal representative is not named, individuals instead can petition the court to direct asset distribution.
- Formal administration — Required for estates valued at more than $75,000. A personal representative is named to settle the estate in accordance with the will or Florida law, if there is no will.
- Ancillary administration — For decedents who are not Florida residents, but own property in the state. This is similar to formal administration, but only includes Florida property.
- Settling the estate when probate is not required — If probate is not required for your situation, we can assist with other matters, such as addressing your questions regarding what steps need to be taken in order to distribute the assets, determining which obligations need to be satisfied, providing advice on how to terminate an inter vivos trust (often called a living trust), helping with post-mortem estate planning, preparing and reviewing federal and state tax returns, and reviewing post-mortem elections.
Contact us at 305-662-9997 or by email to discuss your legal needs with a knowledgeable probate attorney. We offer free 15-minute telephone consultations, as well as office consultations for a nominal fee.