When it comes to estate planning, the details of the Florida Probate process are commonly misunderstood. Probate is the court process of transferring wealth to your loved ones or intended beneficiaries through your last will and testament at death.
Many people know the basics, such as the definition of a Last Will and Testament or Trust Agreement. Understanding the complexities of what happens if you pass away without any legal protections in place or if a loved one challenges your legal documents, however, can be more challenging.
To help educate you about the Florida probate process, let us share with you five common misconceptions people have about the process.
- Probate is free.
Probate in Florida can be a very costly process. There are many costs that must be paid, such as filing fees, publication costs, accounting fees, and attorney’s fees. Unfortunately, there is no fixed amount on how much the probate process costs, as it varies depending on the length of the proceedings, your estate, and your personal circumstances.
- Probate is a private process.
Many people believe that probate in Florida is a private process. Unfortunately, this is not true. Once an estate goes through a probate proceeding, it becomes a matter of public record. This means that anybody who wants to can request access and receive information detailing the contents of your estate planning documents.
- Creditors will not find out about probate.
Going through the probate process does not void your legal obligations to your creditors. In Florida, creditors have a two-year statute of limitations to file claims against your estate. If you do not leave enough assets to pay off your debts or any applicable taxes, assets that are passed outside of probate can be subject to the claims of your creditors after your death.
- A will cannot be challenged.
Unfortunately, your will can be challenged after your death, even if you have taken all precautions to avoid this. Often times, wills are challenged by family members or others who feel that they are entitled to your assets. If this happens, your estate will be tied up until the matter is resolved by a court.
- The process will not cause stress to your family.
While grieving the death of a loved one, the probate process can be especially overwhelming to navigate. Probate can be a very time-consuming and expensive process, which sadly can lead to family strife. As mentioned above, if your estate is going through probate, the contents are tied up until the matter is resolved by a court. This means that those who are entitled to money will not receive it until a court has determined how the assets will be distributed. Unfortunately, this can lead to overwhelming stress during an already difficult time.
We know this article may raise more questions than it answers for you. If you have specific questions about the probate process in Florida, do not wait to contact us. Let us answer your questions about your unique estate planning needs.