Palatka Probate Attorney Fighting for Your Family
The loss of a loved one is an emotionally trying and stressful experience for everyone involved. Making a difficult time more complicated is the transfer and distribution of assets after a loved one’s passing. Every Palatka probate attorney at Douglas Law Firm helps families navigate the legal process for resolving estate issues after a loved one’s death. We understand the pain and stress that can come with losing a loved one and seek to make the legal process as easy as possible for our clients.
We Help Clients Throughout Putnam County and Surrounding Areas
At Douglas Law Firm you will find that every Palatka probate attorney has significant experience with the most difficult issues our clients face in probate. A few of the tough problems we handle include:
- Disputes over the validity of a will
- Excessive or unnecessary claims against the estate
- Complicated real estate title issues and the intricate and challenging application of Florida law to the descent of homestead property.
Every single probate has its own questions and issues that require expert management. Douglas Law Firm is dedicated to getting the heirs through this process as efficiently and compassionately as possible.
How Florida Probate Works
Probate is the legal process used to distribute a person’s assets after death. The court-supervised process is used when the decedent has executed a Will, and in situations when a person dies without a will.
In cases in which the person executed a Will before passing away, a court will review the document for legal sufficiency and generally distribute the assets in accordance with the Will’s instructions. A judge can also hear any challenges to the Will and ensure that creditors are paid before the assets are distributed.
To start the process, a personal representative for the person who died files a probate petition in court. The personal representative may be identified in the Will or appointed by the court.
In situations in which the estate is worth more than $75,000, the personal representative is required to notify all interested parties of the petition, including family members and others identified in the Will, as well as any known creditors. The personal representative must also gather and inventory the assets and ensure that creditors are paid.
Florida law gives creditors as much as two years to file claims seeking payment from an estate, but that waiting period can often be shortened to 90 days. Although courts typically look to close estates within 12 months, the time it takes to complete the probate process often depends on the specific facts of the situation, which includes the complexity of the assets involved, whether there are any disputes with creditors and whether the validity of the Will is challenged.
How a Palatka Probate Attorney Can Help
A Palatka probate attorney at Douglas Law Firm can provide a wide range of valuable services, helping people navigate the probate process and ensure that the estate is settled in a timely and efficient manner.
♦ Our comprehensive Florida probate services include making sure the notice requirements are met. In order to properly notify creditors and other interested parties, you may need to track those people and entities down. An experienced Palatka probate attorney will conduct a diligent and comprehensive search to identify all creditors and interested parties. Your lawyer will also contact creditors and interested parties to notify them of the probate matter.
♦ In Florida, the decedent’s personal representative is also required to publish a notice to creditors, which is often done in a local newspaper or similar outlet. The notice is only legally effective if it includes certain key information, including the name of the decedent, a unique case file number, the court where the probate proceedings are taking place, and the date of the first publication. The notice must also notify creditors that they have three months to file any claims on the estate. A creditor that does not meet this deadline may lose the right to seek payment for any debts or obligations.
A Palatka Probate Attorney Can Help Out-of-State Owners of Florida Property
As a destination for travelers around the globe, many property owners in Florida live elsewhere most of the year. When out-of-state Florida property owners die, it can raise some legal questions about what happens to the property.
The distribution of the property is based on the law in which it is located. That means probate when it comes to Florida property owned by someone out-of-state. For Floridians who own property outside of the Sunshine State, the property distribution will be governed by the law of the state in which it is located. This process is often referred to as “ancillary probate.”
At Douglas Law Firm, we have significant experience successfully resolving ancillary probate matters in Florida and beyond for a wide range of clients. A Palatka probate attorney at our firm can also help people who are planning for how their assets will be distributed when they die by considering trusts and other tools to avoid the probate process.
Will Challenges in Florida
A Palatka probate attorney can also help fight any challenges to the terms of the decedent’s will. These contests can become complicated, drawn-out legal battles if not addressed head-on.
There are a limited number of grounds on which a person can contest the terms of a Will during the probate process. A person may argue, for example, that the Will was the product of “undue influence” by someone who stands to benefit from the way the assets are to be distributed. Alternatively, it may be that the document was forged or that the decedent simply did not have the required mental capacity to execute the Will at the time. In addition, there are some basic requirements regarding signatures and witnesses to the execution of a Will, which can be grounds for a contest if not handled properly.
It is ultimately up to the probate judge to decide whether a certain challenge has merit, but an experienced Palatka probate attorney at our firm can help you persuasively make your case.
Reach Out to a Palatka Probate Attorney to Learn More
Our offices are conveniently located in Palatka, Orange Park, St. Augustine, and Jacksonville. Contact us online or call 800-705-5457 to schedule a free initial consultation with an experienced Palatka probate attorney. Our lawyers are happy to meet with you at your home if you cannot travel to us.