Probate Attorney & Trust Administration
You may have to contact your loved one’s probate attorney. after they pass, which is never easy. The grief and pain associated with that kind of loss, however, can be magnified if a family must make important financial and legal decisions while still grieving. Imagine your family learning, after you pass away, that your assets are now frozen.
Even worse, imagine how your family would feel upon learning that your assets must go through an expensive and lengthy court proceeding before they end up with your intended beneficiary. How will bills be paid? Who will manage your real property?
We at McDonald Law Firm strive to eliminate this kind of stress for grieving families. We work with you to minimize or avoid entirely the expense and delay of probate. We also strive to memorialize your post-death wishes so that your loved ones are left with a clear set of instructions and the help to carry them out.
There are multiple ways to handle this process. Depending on whether your assets were placed in a trust or pass through your will, distribution of your post-death assets will either be administered through a trust or through the probate court.
How Long Does Probate Take?
Formal Administration (where a Personal Representative or Executor is appointed and Letters of Administration are issued) takes a minimum of four (4) months from the date the estate was opened and can take much longer.
The Personal Representative must deal fairly with creditors and follow the instructions in the decedent’s (person who died) will (and trust, if a trust was place). There are multiple tasks to be accomplished and representation by a probate attorney is required in the State of Florida.
Summary Administration (where an Order of Summary Administration is issued and there is no Personal Representative appointed) is a one step process. Certain criteria must be met in order for an estate to be eligible for Summary Administration proceedings.
The Difference Between Probate And Trust Administration
It is fairly common that people will confuse the probate process with trust administration; however, they are not the same procedure. The probate process involves the allocating of assets to the intended beneficiaries through a local probate court.
If assets are owned by a trust, then the distribution of trust assets may be accomplished without going through probate court. Sometimes, a person dies with a trust in place but has assets that were not in the trust and must be probated.
If the decedent’s will dictates that probate assets be released to the trustee, the probate assets will ultimately be administered through the decedent’s trust. It is possible, therefore, for an estate to require both probate and trust administration.
Whether the estate settlement goes through a probate or trust administration, there are typically six steps to complete:
- The inventory of documents and finances
- The evaluation of assets
- The redemption of insurance, annuities, and retirement plans
- The payment of taxes and other expenses
- The tracking of income
- The distribution of assets to the beneficiaries
The probate process takes place in a court proceeding that allows the court-appointed Personal Representative of the estate to transfer the assets from the decedent’s name into the names of the beneficiaries. The probate is administered through and conducted by a local circuit court. In the State of Florida, a probate attorney is required in formal probate administration and in summary administration.
Unlike the probate process, trust administration does not usually require court involvement. If appropriate assets were titled properly in the name of the trust before the Trustmaker passed away, then it is most likely that probate will not be required.
The Trustee of a trust or the Personal Representative (Executor) of a probate estate has many responsibilities that require specific attention. Obtaining proper legal counsel is critical to ensure that these responsibilities are met and to minimize personal liability.
If you have any questions regarding the processes of probate or trust administration, we encourage you to call 561-748-2233 or request a free consultation with a probate attorney online.
Our team is well-versed in these matters and can help get you through this confusing and unfamiliar situation.