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What is probate?

Most Florida residents may have heard about probate but may not fully understand what it is or how it works. In short, probate is the process by which the courts manage the estate of a person who has died, as noted by the Florida Bar website. Probate litigation is necessary when no will or trust was in existence but it can also be required in cases where such estate planning documentation does exist.

The probate process involves an identification of both assets and debts held by the deceased person. Once this has been completed, the distribution of assets begins. The first item to be paid is always the cost of the probate proceedings followed by any other debts, including tax responsibilities. Once all liabilities have been paid, any remaining funds are distributed among the surviving heirs.

Any asset that the deceased person owned solely will be included in probate. Any asset that the deceased person owned in conjunction with another person can be included in probate if there were no terms outlining rights of survivorship.

Multiple entities are involved in probate. On the part of the court, both a circuit court clerk and a circuit court judge will work on probate cases. A personal representative with accompanying legal representation is also part of the process. Any creditors will have the opportunity to ensure their debts are included in the proceedings. This includes the Internal Revenue Service.

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but general information about probate in Florida.

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