Objecting to Probate in Florida
Don’t let the term “probate” scare you. Generally speaking, probate is simply the administration of a decedent’s estate by a court according to the terms of the decedent’s will, or if there is no will, by the state’s intestate succession laws.
What is Probate in Florida?
If someone dies without a will, they are considered to have died intestate, in which case Florida law will distribute assets according to a pre-arranged intestacy scheme. If someone dies with a will, probate is the court-supervised legal process for identifying and gathering the assets of a deceased person, paying the decedent’s debts, and distributing assets to the rightful beneficiaries.
Mainly because family members do not always get along, the probate process can turn litigious very quickly, and in some cases, like the following, probate is required:
- Nonresidents who pass away owning real or tangible personal property in Florida in their individual names.
- Florida residents that own property titled in their individual names for which no beneficiary is named who passes away.
Because of the complex nature and potentially expensive mistakes involved, you need the assistance of an experienced probate attorney from Purcell, Flanagan, Hay & Greene.
Grounds for Objecting to Probate of a Will in Florida
Objections in the probate process may be made for challenging the will’s validity, including:
- Undue influence,
- Lack of testamentary capacity, or
- Defects in the execution of the will itself. Fla. Stat. §732.5165.
Process for Objecting to Probate of a Will in Florida
The process for objecting to probate of a will in Florida begins with the filing of a Petition for Administration, which is required for the administration of a will in Florida. After the Petition for Administration has been filed and the will has been admitted to probate, the personal representative must serve a copy of the notice of administration on:
- The surviving spouse,
- All beneficiaries,
- The trustee of a trust, if there is one, and
- Anyone who may be entitled to exempt property and/or anyone who may have an interest or claim in the decedent’s estate, such as, for example, the heirs under any previous wills.
Any person receiving notice of the petition may object prior to the will being admitted to probate. If you have the grounds for objecting to the will, you must file your objection within three (3) months after you were served with the Notice of Administration.
It is critical that all proper parties are served proper notice for all probate deadlines. The experienced probate attorneys at Purcell, Flanagan, Hay & Greene can help you identify any grounds for objection and handle the objection itself within the applicable time limits.
Can I Object to Probate on My Own?
The probate process is statutorily-driven, and even small mistakes, such as missing a deadline by a few days, can have serious ramifications. Some individuals who have knowledge of the applicable law, such as a paralegal in an estate planning law firm, may have sufficient knowledge to object on their own. For the vast majority of us, however, experienced legal advice is strongly recommended.
How Can I Get the Help I Need?
Here at Purcell, Flanagan, Hay & Greene, we have attorneys who are skilled and familiar with the law regarding probate disputes. We can protect your rightful inheritance, ensure that all of your documents are accurate and timely-filed, and represent you throughout the process. Even better, we can prepare your estate planning ahead of time, including documents like trusts, powers of attorney, living wills, etc. Contact us today, because if there has been a death in the family, the clock is already ticking.