What Is Probate?

Probate refers to the process of gathering the assets of a deceased individual and distributing them appropriately among heirs and creditors. It is supervised by the courts, in part to ensure that taxes and other fees owed to the government are properly paid. Given the financial interests at play, it is common for legal disputes to arise during probate. For this reason, it is important for executors to work with a knowledgeable lawyer who can help them avoid mistakes and reduce the likelihood of lawsuits.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Craig Donoff, P.A., can help. We have decades of experience assisting individuals in Boca Raton and throughout southern Florida administer the probate process. We work closely with executors, advising them at every step and making sure they navigate around the most — and least — common legal missteps.

How Probate Works

There are a series of steps that must be followed for probate to be carried out properly. These include:

Appointing an executor

First, someone must be named to administer probate. In many cases, the deceased will have named an executor in his or her will. If not, then a family member or other individual must petition the court to name an executor.

To petition the court, you will likely need to produce a formal application, a death certificate and a will (if one exists). Executors also need to provide information concerning the date of death and the names of surviving family members and other potential beneficiaries.

Taking inventory and giving notice

Once an executor has been named, he or she must inventory the deceased's assets. This will include real estate, stocks, bonds, business interests and other assets. In some cases, it is necessary for an independent financial analyst to appraise the worth of certain holdings.

Likewise, the executor must inform all creditors of the deceased's passing. These creditors then have a window of time in which they can make claims on any assets.

Paying taxes and funeral expenses

The executor, typically in collaboration with a lawyer, must determine which claims against the estate are valid and pay off any outstanding debts. This will often include paying taxes to the IRS and meeting any funeral costs.

Transferring legal titles

Once all debts have been paid (and all disputes settled), the executor will oversee the legal transfer of the deceased's assets to his or her beneficiaries.

Legal Support For Probate Administrators

Administering probate is not easy. It involves a great deal of time and attention to keep track of all moving parts and execute the estate properly.

If you are tasked with administering probate, reach out to our firm for help. You can call us at 561-288-2267 or 800-416-4543, or schedule an appointment online. Initial consultations are always free, so we can inform you of how to proceed and what you're likely to encounter before you're obliged to retain us.