Probate & Trust Administration

Compassionate Legal Guidance Through Trying Times

The probate process can be confusing and frustrating. After the death of a loved one, it can often be infused with emotion. Having a knowledgeable legal expert assisting you can make the probate simpler and ease your troubles. Let Perry Douglas West, Esq., help you throughout the process and provide legal assistance as you oversee the last wishes of your loved one or friend.

What is Probate?

According to the Florida bar, “Probate is a court-supervised process for identifying and gathering the assets of a deceased person (decedent), paying the decedent’s debts and distributing the decedent’s assets to his or her beneficiaries.“

During this process, the decedent’s will is verified, his creditors are asked to appear before the court (and paid if necessary) and the decedent’s assets are distributed in a way that is consistent with the wishes spelled out in his will. Depending on the size or complexity of an estate, this can be a short or a long process.

If a person dies without having left a will or if a will cannot be found in order to be validated by the court, the estate will be considered “intestate” and will be distributed as per Florida intestate laws.

The Probate Process

Probate is concerned with passing ownership of assets from the descendent’s to his beneficiaries in a manner that is in accordance with the decedent’s will or with Florida intestacy laws.

To begin the probate process, the decedent’s will must be filled with the clerk of the circuit court. A circuit court judge will then determine its validity and will verify if the executor named in the will is qualified to serve in that capacity. If she is, letters of administration will be issued that will allow her to perform her duties as a representative of the decedent’s estate.

The executor has many responsibilities, including identifying and safeguarding assets, notifying creditors, paying debts and taxes, disburse assets and more. In the course of her duties, the executor may hire professionals to help with administrating the estate, including an attorney. This can help protect everyone’s interests, especially when dealing with a large or complicated estate.

What if There’s No Will?

It is not uncommon for an individual to die without having left a will. Unfortunately, this can create confusion and difficulties for the loved ones left behind. In this situation, an estate will enter probate and the court will find that the decedent died intestate. Florida’s intestacy laws will then determine how assets and property are distributed. Depending on the potential beneficiaries, this can become complicated.

Current law takes into account whether the decedent had a surviving spouse or descendants. It is concerned mainly with legal or blood relatives and does not recognize the special bonds we form with friends, mentees, or others.

Trust Administration

If your loved one has requested that a trust be created, it will be necessary to seek guidance and legal assistance from a skilled Florida trust administration lawyer. A Florida trust lawyer can help establish the trust and administer it in the fashion requested in the decedent’s will. With knowledge of and experience with administering trusts, Perry Douglas West, Esq., can help you ensure your loved one’s wishes are being followed in a manner that is consistent with Florida law.

Consult with a Florida Probate Lawyer

Perry Douglas West, Esq., is an experienced estate attorney and has helped many Floridians create wills and trusts, execute wills, and administer trusts. His knowledge of estate laws, including probate and trust administration, can help ease your burden after the passing of a loved one.

Simplify your life — schedule a consultation with Perry Douglas West, Esq. Together, we can determine the