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How to Open a Formal Probate Estate in Florida

How to Open a Formal Probate Estate in Florida

Did you know that Florida has a streamlined probate process? It’s referred to as “Summary Administration.” Summary Administration, Florida’s streamlined probate process, may be used when an estate is valued at less than $75,000 or when an estate’s decedents have been deceased for over two years. Estates that do not qualify for Summary Administration must follow the lengthier probate court-supervised process referred to as “Formal Administration.”

In some states, graduated probate filing fees based on the value of the estate are collected, but Florida sticks to a flat $400 fee for each estate filing for formal probate.

If you need to open a formal probate estate in Florida, you will need to file several documents with the probate court.

Documents Needed to Open a Formal Probate Estate in Florida:

1.Petition for Formal Administration

The Petition for Formal Administration must contain:

  • all related information about the individual filing the petition (name, address, interest in the estate, name and address of the petitioner’s attorney),
  • pertinent information about the decedent (name, last known address, age at time of death, last four digits of social security number, place of death, and state/county of domicile),
  • pertinent information about any estate beneficiaries (names, addresses, dates of birth of any minors, nature of relationships to decedent),
  • the petitioner’s reason for choosing the county where they are filing the petition for the estate probate,
  • the reason for their choice of Personal Representative or executor and a list of their qualifications to serve according to Florida law,
  • an itemized list of the decedent’s assets and their value,
  • a declaration regarding whether the estate will need to file federal estate tax return IRS Form 706,
  • a declaration of whether the decedent had a Last Will and Testament,
  • statement listing any unrevoked wills, and any codicils or amendment to the wills,
  • a declaration if the decedent died without a Last Will and Testament,
  • and a declaration stating that the petitioner was unable to locate any wills or codicils.

2.Petition to Waive Bond

If there is a Last Will and Testament in place, it will generally request that the bond be waived. If there is no Last Will and Testament in place, a Petition to Waive Bond may be filed with the court (along with joinders, waivers, and consents signed by beneficiaries as required). There is no guarantee that the judge will grant the request to waive bond in either scenario.

3.Waiver of Notice and Bond, Consent to Appointment, and Waiver of Priority

Beneficiaries can sign waivers to indicate that they have no protest regarding the decedent’s will and have no intention to contest the contents.

4.Original Death Certificate

5.Last Will and Testament

If the decedent did have a Last Will and Testament, the original document must be filed with the probate court.

6.Oath of Witness to Will

If the Last Will and Testament is not signed before two witnesses and a Notary Public, using an acceptable self-proving affidavit, the oath of a least one of the witnesses needs to be taken before a Florida Circuit Court Judge or Clerk, or an out-of-state Commissioner appointed by the Florida probate judge.

If you have questions about how to open a formal probate estate in Florida or if you need to discuss other aspects of estate planning or estate management, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the experienced Florida estate planning attorneys at Elder Solutions Law Firm today.