Dealing with the loss of a loved one is already a stressful and grief-stricken process. It is often made worse when the family realizes that they are going to need to go through the judicial probate process in Florida to transfer title to assets left in the lost loved one’s name.
As a Florida probate attorney, it is important to me to be mindful of the delicate nature of family dynamics and interpersonal relationships at play. I have seen a lot of different situations, but there is always the potential of conflict when there is money or assets involved. However, there is no need for a family to tear itself apart causing more stress in an already stressful time of grieving the loss of a loved one.
This is why I am writing about three keys to helping you prevent the conflict from arising in your case.
- Communication. The first key is to have an open and honest dialogue with all interested parties. Nothing breeds distrust more than lack of communication. Everyone with an interest in the estate should come together and discuss the important facts. It is important to look for an original will and discuss the will together, if there is one. If not, the Florida probate code ensures an organized and proportional distribution of net assets available to the closest relatives. It is also important to discuss the assets (bank account, car, house, etc.) and debts (funeral bill, utilities, credit card, mortgage, etc.). All of these things should be identified and listed in writing. Copies of the lists may be circulated among the beneficiaries and brought with you to a consultation with a licensed Florida probate attorney. Communication should also remain open throughout the process, which can take up to a year or longer.
- Cooperation. The second key is for everyone to be on the same page. During the probate process there are opportunities for interested parties to sign waivers designed to make the process go smoother and quicker. For example, unless the requirement is waived, a personal representative is usually required to post a bond before being appointed by the court in Florida. This bond is like an insurance policy in case anything happens to the assets of the estate. The benefit of having the interested parties waive the bond requirement is time and expense. The bond process alone can take weeks and cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. As long as everyone communicates and cooperates together, there is no reason why many of the lengthy processes in probate cannot be avoided all together.
- Organization. The third key is to stay organized throughout the process. Details, details, details. I cannot over emphasize the importance of diligent record keeping. All money spent and received must be recorded and documented carefully. Collect all bills and gather legal titles and deeds to all property that. Keeping detailed records will protect you and make everyone else’s job much easier including the attorney.
If you apply these three keys to your Florida probate situation, you are well on your way to a stress free probate.
Call Haynes & de Paz, P.A. to receive the help you need with your probate process.