WHAT IS A WILL? WHEN AND WHERE SHOULD IT BE FILED?  A will is a document executed by a person which disposes of his/her property after his/her death. It generally names a personal representative to administer the estate. After the death of the person, the custodian of the will must deposit the will with the Clerk of the Circuit Court, within ten (10) days after receiving information that the person is deceased.

DO YOU NEED AN ATTORNEY TO FILE A WILL? No, an attorney is not necessary to file the will with the Clerk of the Circuit Court. However, you may want to consult with an attorney before filing so that he or she may determine whether Probate proceedings will be necessary.

WHAT HAPPENS IF A PERSON DIES AND HAS LEFT NO WILL? The property will be distributed in accordance with Florida Law.

WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE IS A WILL FILED BUT NO PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE HAS BEEN NAMED? Probate proceedings are initiated with the filing of a Petition by the person asking to be appointed personal representative. The Petition is normally prepared by an attorney. The appointed person will be responsible for the estate until all bills are paid and the balance of the estate is distributed to the rightful beneficiaries.

ARE THERE DIFFERENT TYPES OF PROCEEDINGS THAT CAN BE FILED DEPENDING ON THE SIZE OF THE ESTATE? There are 3 basic types of proceedings for administering the decedent’s estate. Formal Administration: This type of proceeding is used when it is necessary to appoint a personal representative to act on behalf of the estate because there are considerable assets or other special circumstances. The capacity in which the representative will act is determined by the Court at the time of the appointment and letters of administration will be issued to the representative so that he/she may complete the administration of the estate. Summary Administration: Summary administration may be filed when the value of the entire estate does not exceed $75,000. Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration: The disposition is filed to request release of assets of the deceased to the person who paid the final expenses; such as funeral bills or medical bills for the last 60 days. This procedure may be accomplished with the filing of a petition. The form required to file the disposition is available from the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the Probate Division.

The following must be provided: If the decedent has a will, it must be filed with the Clerk of Circuit Court within ten days of the notice of death. Itemized, paid funeral bills. Paid receipts for any medical expenses incurred sixty days prior to death. Death certificate. Statement regarding the type of asset to be released. Identification of the person filing. Filing fee as set by Florida Statutes.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THIS INFORMATION IS FILED WITH THE CLERK? The Court will enter an Order either allowing or disallowing the release of the assets. A certified copy of the Order is then mailed to the petitioner. For current filing fees refer to the Schedule of Service Charges, available in the Clerk’s Office.

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