If you have recently lost a loved one, please accept my condolences. If you’ve landed here on this article because you will soon be facing probate in Hillsborough County, I hope that the following information removes a bit of the stress you are likely experiencing during this challenging time.
What is probate in Florida?
Probate is the term used to describe the court-ordered process of settling of a deceased person’s estate. The process involves paying all outstanding debts and passing the deceased’s remaining assets to their heirs. More information can be found on the Circuit Court of Hillsborough County webpage here.
What happens during probate?
No two probate cases are exactly the same; however, there are certain tasks required for every case. They are:
- Naming a Personal Representative and notifying potential heirs
If there is a will in place, the Personal Representative will already be named. However, if the deceased did not prepare a will, the court will select someone to serve as a Personal Representative. It is typically the spouse or a child. It is then required that all potential heirs be notified before finalizing the appointment. The public is often notified in case any heirs were not contacted. Once this is done, the named Personal Representative will become the legal manager of the estate.
- Notification of Death
During this step, the Personal Representative notifies all the deceased’s creditors. You must show that you have done your due diligence in this regard. This often involves public notice. Creditors typically have three months to file a claim with the courts.
- Inventory of Assets
The Personal Representative must also take an accurate account of the estate’s assets, including all property, financial assets or business assets. In some cases, an independent appraisal will be required to evaluate the estate as well. After the Personal Representative has an accurate inventory of the assets, they must determine which creditors’ claims are valid and settle any debts owed by the estate.
- Distribution of Assets
After the three-month waiting period for creditors to make claims has passed and all debt has been settled, the Personal Representative can then request the court to grant the authority to distribute the estate’s assets as instructed by the last will and testament.
Here at the Law Offices of Laurie Ohall, we understand the stress that comes along with filing for probate in Hillsborough County, Florida. You do not have to do this alone. Contact us today at 813-438-8503 and we can help you though the entire process.