Category Archives: Probate & Guardianship

What is Probate in Florida?

Probate is a court process that is used to determine the authenticity of a will as well as to administer the estate of the deceased individual. Through probate, the court supervises the payment of all the debts of the decedent to his creditors. Subsequently, the court administers the distribution of the assets of the estate to its beneficiaries in accordance with the will of the decedent. In case of an absence of the will, the court will arrange the asset distribution according to the laws of intestacy of the applicable state.

Adult Protective Services in Florida

The Adult Protective Services in Florida are part of the Florida Department of Children and Families. You can report adult exploitation online at or by calling their hotline at 1-800-962-2873.

“Unpopular Opinion: Why Probate is Actually a Good Thing”

Avoiding probate is usually something most (if not all) estate planning attorneys advocate for several reasons: privacy to you and your family, saving your loved one’s time and money on a slow court process, and a quicker route for beneficiaries to access their inheritance. However, sometimes having your estate go through probate might actually be…   + Read More…

HBO®’s “Succession” The Importance of Succession Planning as Part of Your Estate Plan

While the show is fictional, the reality is that succession planning is an important aspect of estate planning that should be fully integrated into your plan, especially for business owners.  A solid estate plan not only provides for the disposition of your assets upon your passing but also plans for someone to take your place (a successor) when you are no longer able to perform your responsibilities due to incapacity or death. 

Signing Your Will Under Seal

Generally speaking, signing under seal makes the contract more formal. “The formality of a promise under seal is an efficient, trustworthy method of channeling a person’s deliberate intent to be legally obligated”

What is Ancillary Probate?

The primary probate proceeding is usually held in the decedent’s state of residence or home state. However, a state probate court only has authority over property in its own jurisdiction; it does not have the power to issue orders for property that is located in another state. Therefore, an additional probate proceeding becomes necessary.

What is a GRAT?

GRAT, short for Grantor Retained Annuity Trust, is a type of irrevocable trust that alleviates the tax cost of passing assets to your beneficiaries.

How Should you Handle Car Ownership in Estate Planning?

Car ownership should always be considered when thinking of estate planning.  There are different options to how a person should approach dealing with their vehicle and an estate plan.

What Happens to a Car Lease After the Car Lessee’s Death?

Often times, payments still need to be made and the payments become the responsibility of the deceased car lessee’s estate. Sometimes car dealerships will negotiate with the personal representative of the deceased’s estate and may be able to transfer the remaining lease to another person.

Is an Executor the same as a Personal Representative?

The personal representative you appoint will be the person in charge of handling your estate once you pass. This individual has vast responsibilities and powers; therefore, your personal representative should be someone that you trust.

What are the Requirements for a Valid Will & what is a Self-Proving Will?

In Florida, for a will to be valid it must be in writing, signed by the party seeking to create the will (the testator), the testator must have the mental competence to sign the will, and it must be signed by two witnesses to the execution of the will.

What are the Consequences of not Having a Will?

What happens if you do not have a will or your will is not valid? In these cases, the state declares the individual to have died “intestate,” and your property follows a chain of succession to determine the owner.

Probate Assets vs. Non-Probate Assets

Probate is the process after a person passes or becomes disabled; their assets are put on hold until the will is validated, any remaining debt is paid off, and the beneficiaries of the will are identified.  Probate can be a long and stressful process, especially after such a difficult time.  Non-probate assets avoid this long, costly process and pass directly to a decedent’s heirs.

If you have a loved one with special needs, you may want to read this.

What is a special needs trust? A special needs trust is established to provide for the care and needs of a disabled individual without jeopardizing the disabled person’s eligibility for government benefits such as Supplemental Social Income (SSI) and Medicaid. A first-party or self-settled special needs trust is established with the asset’s owned by the…   + Read More…

A tweet, a tweet! A Lady Bird Deed!

A lady bird deed (called an enhanced life estate deed in Florida) is a relatively new form of deed that—like a traditional life estate deed—allows property to pass automatically to one or more designated recipients at death, without the need for probate.