There are many elements to consider when setting out to begin estate planning in Florida. Certainly identifying where or to whom your assets and personal belongings will go once you die is a critical piece of this puzzle. However, that is not all that estate planning is or should be about. Understanding the process via which your estate is handled after you did can impact what types of estate planning tools you utilize.

Probate is the process via which Florida courts will manage your estate in most cases. TheFlorida Bar explains that if you do not have a trust or a will in place, probate litigation may need to take place. Such litigation can also be required even if a trust or a will has been created, depending upon the circumstances.

During probate, all of your assets and liabilities will be identified as the first step in the process. From there, all debts must be paid starting with those costs associated with the probate itself. Taxes and other debts will be paid next. It is only after all debts have been reconciled that the remaining assets can be distributed. If you are a joint owner of an asset, that item can be included in your probate proceedings even if the other person is still living unless you have outlined clear rights of survivorship.

Among the parties involved in probate are a personal representative, legal representatives, a circuit court judge and a circuit court clerk. If you are interested in learning more about probate and estate administration, please feel free to visit our Florida estate planning website.

Luis E. Barreto