The probate process

Probate refers to the court administered process that is required in order to validate a decedent's will and distribute their assets accordingly. If there is no will to execute, probate serves to make sure the decedent's assets go to their closest living relatives as dictated by intestacy laws. With or without a will, probate can become a complicated, lengthy, and expensive process. If you are dealing with probate, it is to your benefit to consult with one of our probate attorneys at Miami Lawyers Near Me. We'll work closely with you to ensure that the probate process is completed as efficiently as possible.

Estate Planning

How it works and why it's necessary


Will—a legal document that sets forth how the testator wishes to have their assets and property distributed after their death. The will appoints an executor to carry out this task and names the beneficiaries who are to receive designated portions of the decedent's estate.


Probate — a decedent's last will and testament is submitted to a probate court to be validated and used to appoint an executor who will manage the decedent's assets and debts, as well as distribute the decedent's estate in accordance with the will's instructions and contents.


Administration — the executor named in a decedent's will is tasked with making sure that the instructions contained in the will are carried out. In the absence of a will, the probate court will appoint an administrator, usually the closets living relative, to oversee the distribution of an estate according to intestacy laws.

State laws require that a person’s estate go through probate whether they left a will behind or not. Though the process can become complicated, the aim is to make sure that the probated will is indeed valid, and that any benefits within its contents are properly distributed to the entitled recipients and no one else. In addition, probate allows for the negotiation of payment for any outstanding debt or taxes owed by the decedent.
Probate can become a lot to handle. Executing a will, obtaining or drafting court ordered files, following court procedures, and other tasks can be overwhelming. This is why the best thing you can do when facing probate is to contact a probate attorney. A qualified attorney can help minimize the cost and time of the probate process and give you much needed peace of mind.



Most frequent questions and answers
A major part of the probate process involves validating the last will and testament of the decedent. This step is crucial as the subsequent proceedings will be based on the instructions and contents laid out in the will. Certain circumstances can call into question the legitimacy of the will being probated and give rise to will disputes. Some of these circumstances can include the existence of multiple versions of the will, the decedent not having full knowledge of the will’s contents, or the involvement of any sort of forgery or fraud. However, it should be noted that these incidents are rare and difficult to prove.
If there is no existing will to determine who will receive the inheritance from a decedent’s estate, the probate court will appoint an administrator. Intestacy laws will then dictate how the finances, assets, and property of the decedent will be distributed while the administrator manages and oversees the process. Although intestacy laws vary by state, closest living relatives generally take precedence over others in intestate succession, starting with a surviving spouse and blood relatives such as children. More distant relations usually do not receive any benefits unless a decedent has no surviving spouse or children. It is worth noting that misconduct towards the decedent during their life may bar a person from receiving their inheritance. An extreme example would be if an individual caused the death of the decedent, then that person would most certainly never be allowed to collect any sort of benefit from the estate.
An estate is comprised of the finances, assets, and properties that were owned by the decedent at the time of their death. However, not every item within an estate is required to pass through probate. Generally only portions of the estate that were exclusively owned by the decedent need to go through probate. For example, a house, car, bank account, or investment that was solely under the decedent’s name would be submitted to probate court by default. However, when it comes to jointly held assets or properties, probate can be skipped altogether. The same goes for any accounts with an appointed beneficiary or a property that is registered under a transfer-upon-death form.
No matter what state you live in, probate proceedings are known to be time consuming and drawn out. Moreover, everyone’s estate is different, and the length of the probate process is largely determined by how many assets, properties, and debts are contained within an estate. Other factors can also affect the length of probate: locating beneficiaries and assets, an invalid will, or disputes over inheritances among beneficiaries. Moreover, each individual step in probate is allotted a substantial amount of time to be completed, further prolonging the overall process. It is estimated that probate can take anywhere between six months to well over a year.