Wills & Probate Overview

What is probate?

Probate is a court-supervised process for identifying and gathering the assets of a deceased person (decedent), paying the decedent's debts, and distributing the decedent's assets to his or her beneficiaries. The decedent's assets are used first to pay the cost of the probate proceeding, then are used to pay the decedent's outstanding debts, and the remainder is distributed to the decedent's beneficiaries. There are two types of probate administration under Florida law: formal administration and summary administration.

Probate administration is required when the decedent has property that remained titled in his or her name alone at the time of their death that lacked a provision for automatic succession of ownership at death.

Probate is necessary to pass ownership of the decedent's probate assets to the decedent's beneficiaries. If the decedent left a valid will, unless the will is admitted to probate in the court, it will be ineffective to pass ownership of probate assets to the decedent's beneficiaries. If the decedent had no will, probate is necessary to pass ownership of the decedent's probate assets to those persons who are to receive them under Florida law.

The first step of probating in Brandon, Lakeland and the surrounding area, is determining whether or not the deceased person had a valid Will. Because most people keep their Wills in a location that holds most of their important documents, this step is potentially the easiest of the entire process.

The next step of the process is to determine who will be responsible for the filing of the Will with the probate court. This person will later become known as the Executor of the Estate. In a properly prepared Will, the executor will be identified and in many cases, may have spoken with the deceased person before they passed about this responsibility. At this stage, it is important to seek out an attorney who is familiar with probating a Will in Florida.

The Florida probate courts have exacting standards of what documents and records should be included with a Will being filed for probate. Every filing adds a cost of either time or money or both, its pays off to have an experienced attorney probating a Will in Brandon, Lakeland, or the surrounding area.

The probate attorneys in Brandon and Lakeland at Pilka & Associates, P.A. will be able to help the executor to collect the necessary documents and records. While probating a Will in Brandon, Lakeland, or the surrounding area, your attorney will be able to properly account for all of the assets of the estate and if required, provide a formal accounting to the probate court.

After all of the required filings have been made and the assets have been accounted for, the final step of the probate process can begin. The assets of the estate can be distributed among the beneficiaries of the estate.

Brandon and Lakeland, Florida will litigation

The Brandon and Lakeland, Florida firm of Pilka & Associates, P.A., is equipped to advise family members of the steps to take to avoid the often costly Will litigation in Florida During the probate process families are often exposed to previously unknown regrets and family struggles. It is during these mournful times that a beloved family member can begin to show unexpected feelings as he engages in a Will contest.

When it comes to Florida probate litigation, only a few barriers exist to contest a Will in Florida. A person who brings a Will contest must be able to show that they would have been a beneficiary if the Will did not exist. This first threshold question can often only be met by members of the deceased's family or by surviving spouses. Once a person gets in the Will contest door, they must be able to prove one of the following claims in order to win their Will dispute in Brandon, Lakeland and surrounding areas in Florida:

  • The deceased person was coerced into making this Will in this fashion.
  • The deceased person was mentally incapacitated at the time the Will was executed.
  • The Will does not conform to the minimum standards of Florida law.
  • The Will is not the most recent Will and a second Will has been found.

These are some of the more common Brandon and Lakeland Will contest arguments, but they are not the only arguments available. A Florida Will dispute can vary in arguments and will often require a court to find the truth.

A legal advisor you can trust

Our Lakeland probate law firm is dedicated to providing effective and efficient representation. Call Pilka & Associates, P.A. in our Brandon or Lakeland Florida law offices at 863-236-9321 or contact us through this website.