Probate Administration Lawyer

What Is Probate Administration?

Probate administration is a legal process individuals, such as a surviving spouse, children or other family members, often encounter when handling the affairs of a deceased loved one. And it’s complicated.


Are you struggling to navigate the complex world of probate administration? This overview will walk you through its fundamental principles, providing valuable insights into important procedures and the pivotal role of an executor, referred to as a “personal representative” in Florida.


By the end of this overview, you will have more confidence to make decisions during this often challenging and emotionally charged process. You will also understand the importance of selecting the right probate administration lawyer to guide you.


Today, embark on your path to a more seamless probate administration experience in Florida. Contact trusted probate attorney William C. Roof when you’re ready to get the help you need.


The Probate Process

The probate process is a complex series of essential steps, each of which plays a crucial role in settling a deceased individual’s affairs.

The Role of a Personal Representative (Executor) in Probate & Estate Administration

The personal representative (executor) holds a central and pivotal role in the probate process. He or she is entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring the proper execution of the deceased person’s wishes and the smooth administration of the estate. The personal representative’s (executor’s) role can be summarized as follows:

Identifying Assets

The personal representative’s (executor’s) first task is identifying and locating the deceased person’s assets, including real property/real estate, personal property, investments, bank accounts, and more.

Valuation of Assets

Once assets are identified, they must be appraised to determine their fair market value. This valuation helps in assessing the overall worth of the estate.

Paying Debts and Liabilities

Personal representatives (executors) are responsible for addressing any outstanding debts and liabilities of the deceased. This includes notifying creditors and paying off debts using the decedent’s estate assets. Not only that, they should also pay for estate taxes.

Distributing Assets to Beneficiaries

The ultimate objective of the probate process is to convey the decedent’s remaining assets to the beneficiaries, often family members, as specified in the deceased person’s last will (if the deceased died testate). However, if there is no will (meaning the deceased died intestate), then distribution must occur according to Florida law under the probate code. The personal representative (executor) ensures these distributions are carried out accurately and compliant with the requirements of the probate code.

Closing the Estate

Once the above steps have been successfully completed, the estate can be closed, marking the conclusion of the probate process. At this point, the personal representative’s (executor’s) duties come to a close.

The Parties Involved in Probate Administration

To understand how probate administration unfolds, you need to understand the various parties involved. Each of these parties has specific roles and responsibilities within the probate context.

1. Beneficiaries

Beneficiaries are individuals named in the deceased person’s will to receive assets, often a surviving spouse, children, or other family members of the decedent. They have an interest in the probate process as they expect to inherit from the estate. This is possible if, at the date of death of the decedent, there is a valid will executed by the same.

2. Creditors

Creditors, whether individuals or entities, are those for whom the deceased person owed money or had financial obligations. They have the right to claim against the estate to recover the amounts owed to them.

3. The Court

The court is involved in the probate process to ensure that the administration follows the applicable laws. The court has the authority to settle disputes and make final judgments if necessary.

4. Probate Attorney

A probate attorney practices in probate matters, such as estate planning, transferring property, types of probate, and more. They provide legal counsel to the personal representative (executor) and guide he or she through the legal intricacies of the probate process.

Probate attorneys can also help with the preparation and execution of a living trust, fiduciary power of attorney, or a small estate affidavit as part of their comprehensive estate planning services.

5. Financial Institutions

Banks, investment firms, and other financial institutions may be involved in the probate process if the deceased person holds accounts or assets with them. They play a vital role in providing necessary financial information.

Assets Subject to Probate

Not all assets are subject to probate. Understanding this distinction is crucial for the probate process.


Probate assets may include:

  • Solely owned real estate
  • Personal property like vehicles, jewelry, and household items
  • Bank accounts in the deceased’s name
  • Investments in the deceased’s name
  • Debts owed to the deceased

Non-probate assets may include:

  • Real property / real estate established as homestead property under Florida law
  • Co-owned assets with survivorship clauses
  • Life insurance policies with named beneficiaries
  • Retirement accounts with designated beneficiaries
  • Trust assets
  • Payable-on-death (POD) or transfer-on-death (TOD) accounts

Differentiating between these asset types is essential for efficient estate management. And it’s something a Florida probate administration attorney can help you with.

What Steps are Involved for Probate Administration?

The process can be broken down into several distinct steps, including:

Step 1: Initiating the Probate Process

The Florida probate process begins with filing the necessary legal documents to open the estate in court. This is the first formal step in the probate journey and sets the process in motion. It involves:

    • Obtaining a death certificate reflecting the decedent’s passing.

    • Filing a petition or application with the local probate court seeking the appointment of a personal representative (executor) for independent administration.

    • Notifying beneficiaries, heirs, and interested parties about the probate proceedings.

    • Publishing notice in a local newspaper to alert potential creditors.

This step marks the formal initiation of the probate process and commences the court’s estate supervision.

Step 2: Gathering and Valuing Assets

Once the estate is officially open, the executor’s next task is to identify and collect all assets of the deceased. This step involves:

    • Creating and documenting an inventory of all the decedent’s assets.

    • Appraising the assets to determine the fair market value of the estate. This may require the assistance of appraisers or professionals in specific fields, such as real estate or art.

    • Gathering and valuing assets of the estate is a meticulous process and helps assess the estate’s overall worth. It lays the foundation for addressing debts and distributing assets to beneficiaries.

    • Obtaining authority from the court to exclude the decedent’s homestead property from the estate.

Step 3: Settling Debts and Liabilities

Addressing the deceased’s outstanding debts and liabilities is another critical responsibility of the personal representative (executor). This phase includes:

    • Identifying and notifying creditors of the deceased person’s passing.

    • Evaluating creditor claims and resolving any disputes.

    • Using estate assets to pay off valid debts.

The personal representative (executor) must ensure that all financial obligations of the deceased are met before distributing assets to beneficiaries. This step prevents conflicts and legal issues down the road.

Step 4: Distributing Assets to Beneficiaries

The ultimate objective of the probate process is to distribute the decedent’s remaining assets to the beneficiaries, often a surviving spouse, children, or other family members, as specified in the deceased person’s will or according to Florida’s intestate laws under the probate code if there is no will. This step involves:

    • Preparing a plan for the decedent’s asset distribution.

    • Carrying out the distribution process according to the plan.

    • Providing an accurate account of asset distribution to the court.

Distributing assets to beneficiaries is the culmination of the probate process and fulfills the intentions of the deceased regarding the disposition of their estate.

Step 5: Closing the Estate

Once all the previous steps have been successfully completed, the estate can be closed, marking the conclusion of the probate process. The closing process involves:

    • Preparing a final accounting of all estate transactions, including income, expenses, and distributions.

    • Filing the final accounting with the court for approval.

    • Distributing remaining assets, if any, to beneficiaries.

    • Requesting the court’s approval to close the estate officially.

Closing the estate is the final act in the probate process, signifying that the personal representative (executor) fulfilled his or her responsibilities and that the estate is now settled.

How to Choose the Right Probate Administration Lawyer

Selecting the right probate administration lawyer is a crucial decision when navigating the complexities of probate. While you may be tempted to handle probate administration without legal counsel, the intricacies of the process and the potential for disputes and legal challenges often make it a good idea to seek professional assistance.

Here are some guidelines on how to choose the best legal counsel to support you through this process:

1. Practices in Probate Law

Look for a lawyer who practices in probate law. Probate law is a specific area of legal practice, and having an attorney that practices in this field helps ensure that you receive the more accurate and up-to-date guidance.

2. Local Knowledge

Select a probate attorney familiar with the local probate court and its procedures. Local knowledge can be invaluable in navigating the system efficiently.

3. Good Communication

Effective communication plays a huge role when collaborating with a probate attorney. Opt for a readily available, highly responsive lawyer who is capable of simplifying intricate legal concepts into understandable language.

4. Transparent Fees

Discuss the attorney’s fees and billing structure upfront. It’s essential to have a clear understanding of the costs involved.

5. Personal Compatibility

Choose an attorney with whom you feel comfortable. A good working relationship with your lawyer can make the probate process less stressful.

6. Problem-Solving Skills

Probate administration can be challenging, and disputes may arise. Look for an attorney who is skilled in negotiation and conflict resolution.

7. Trustworthiness

Trust is paramount when working with an attorney. Ensure that you have confidence in your lawyer’s ethical standards and commitment to your best interests.

Frequently Asked Questions about Probate Administration

To provide a comprehensive understanding of probate administration, let’s address some frequently asked questions:

1. How Long Do You Have to File for Probate After a Death in Florida?

The timeline for filing probate varies by state, but in Florida, you typically have to file probate within 10 days of the decedent’s death. It’s essential to consult with a probate attorney promptly to understand the specific deadlines that may apply in your case and whether exceptions apply.

2. How Does Probate Administration Work?

Probate administration follows a structured legal process that includes:

  • Identifying and valuing the decedent’s assets
  • Addressing the estate’s outstanding debts
  • Distributing the remaining assets to beneficiaries
  • Closing the estate

The process is overseen by the court and managed by the personal representative or executor.

Overwhelmed? Contact Probate Administration Attorney William C. Roof

Understanding probate administration is essential for anyone facing the responsibility of settling the affairs of a deceased loved one. The process can be daunting and emotionally challenging, but it can be navigated successfully with the proper guidance and support.


If you are currently dealing with probate administration or considering your options, contact probate administration attorney William C. Roof. He is ready to help you complete this journey, ensuring that the process is carried out accurately and efficiently, with the utmost respect for the wishes of the deceased and the rights of beneficiaries and creditors.


Contact us today to schedule your consultation.



The contents of this article are not comprehensive, they provide only a general overview of the subject matter discussed. This article does not establish a client-attorney relationship with the reader, and no legal decisions should be made based on the article’s contents. Because every legal matter arises under unique facts specific to the client, no legal decision should be made without consulting a licensed attorney.

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