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Probate Terms to Know

Michael A. Siefert, P.A. Feb. 8, 2022

Senior Old Man Elderly Examining and Checking Last WillSettling the final affairs of a deceased person and distributing assets to heirs involves many complicated procedures. According to an EstateExec survey, it takes an average of 570 hours of effort to settle an estate. When a person dies in Florida, dealing with the decedent's estate may require the surviving family members to trudge through the probate process.

During probate, the executor or personal representative will gather and evaluate the decedent's assets, pay debts and taxes, and distribute the remaining assets to heirs and beneficiaries in accordance with the decedent’s wishes or applicable state laws.

At Michael A. Siefert, P.A., I'm dedicated to offering knowledgeable guidance and advocacy to individuals and families in the legal matters of estate planning and probate. I'm available and ready to discuss your unique situation and help you understand the Florida probate process. My firm is proud to serve clients in Ocala, Florida, and throughout Marion County.

What Is Probate?

Probate can be described as a court-supervised process that involves collecting and assessing the decedent's assets, paying debts and taxes, and transferring the remaining assets to the rightful beneficiaries in accordance with the provisions of the will.

Additionally, probate may be necessary in order to address the decedent’s financial affairs and transfer ownership of the deceased person’s probate assets to the beneficiaries and heirs. If the decedent left a valid will, the probate court will admit the will. However, if the decedent died without leaving a will, the assets will be distributed using the state's intestate succession laws.

Important Probate Terms

Knowing the terms used in probate is crucial to understanding the process. Here are some common terms used in Florida probate matters:

Probate Assets: Probate assets include any asset owned in the deceased person’s sole name at death. Examples of probate assets include bank accounts, real estate properties, life insurance policies, and individual retirement accounts.

Personal Representative: The personal representative or executor is an individual or entity named in the will to handle the administration of the deceased person's estate.

Administrator: A probate administrator is a person appointed by the probate court (when there is no will) to handle the estate administration process.

Beneficiary: A beneficiary is a person, business, institution, or trustee who inherits the assets or receives benefits under a will. Beneficiaries of wills only receive their benefits after the will is examined and approved by the probate court.

Executor: In Florida, an executor of a will is also referred to as the personal representative. He or she will gather probate assets, pay debts and taxes, and distribute the remaining assets to inheritors.

Testate: This term describes when a person dies leaving a will. In this case, the court will distribute property according to the will.

Intestate: This term describes when a person dies without leaving a will. In such cases, the deceased person’s estate will be distributed in accordance with the state’s intestate succession laws.

Intestate Succession: Intestate succession describes when a person dies without a valid will and their estate is distributed to heirs or certain family members using applicable state laws.

Guardianship: A guardianship is a relationship created by state law, whereby a court grants a person (the legal guardian) the duty, authority, and power to make personal and financial decisions for another person, such as a minor or incapacitated adult.

Decedent: The decedent is the person who passed away, and their estate is being probated.

Will: A will is a legal document that provides detailed instructions about a person's wishes for distributing their estate, assets, and property to beneficiaries and heirs when they pass away.

Let Michael A. Siefert, P.A. Help

In Florida, probate is an emotional process that often involves a lot of complexities. When you die, your surviving loved ones and estate may have to pass through the probate process, depending on the surrounding circumstances. Therefore, hiring a knowledgeable estate planning attorney is imperative for proper guidance during the probate process and to help preserve your family's assets.

At Michael A. Siefert, P.A., I have the experience and resources to assist and guide clients in various estate planning legal matters. As your legal counsel, I can evaluate your unique situation and explore your various legal options. Also, I will enlighten you about how the probate process works and help you navigate intelligent decisions. Using my in-depth understanding of Florida probate and estate administration laws, I can guide you and your loved ones through every phase of the legal proceedings from start to finish.

Contact my firm – Michael A. Siefert, P.A. – today to schedule a simple consultation with a knowledgeable probate attorney. I can offer you the comprehensive legal counsel and brilliant advocacy you need to navigate crucial decisions during probate. My firm proudly serves individuals and families in Ocala, Florida, and throughout Marion County.