Florida Probate Administration – Estate and Trust Administration – Summary Probate – Ancillary Probate – Inheritance Law – Related Litigation

“Florida probate administration procedures can be very confusing and complicated, and oftentimes family members do not know what to expect. My staff and I will guide you through the Florida probate process from start to finish, and will compassionately address any concerns or questions in a timely manner. We help collect assets, handle creditors, and distribute the decedent’s assets. I can also help you understand your rights as an heir or beneficiary. My law firm can probate an estate in Broward, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach or any Florida County. We look forward to speaking with you about your probate, estate or inheritance matter.”

-Barbara Buxton, J.D., LL.M., Florida Probate Lawyer & Estate Planning Attorney

Contact a skilled Florida probate and estate lawyer at our Aventura office, located just minutes from North Miami Beach, Pembroke Pines, and Hollywood, Florida, to schedule a telephone or office appointment to discuss your probate matter. Please ask about our other office locations in Broward County and Palm Beach County, Florida.

Experienced Florida Probate Administration Law Firm

At the Law Offices of Barbara Buxton, P.A., we take pride in our strong and active practice in the areas of Florida probate and trust and estate administration. With an advanced Master of Laws in Estate Planning degree (LL.M.), Barbara Buxton understands the intricacies of Florida probate law and is involved in all aspects of estate, probate and trust administration. Ms. Buxton and her staff are dedicated to representing clients as their Miami-Dade County probate attorney, Broward County probate attorney and Palm Beach County probate attorney with personal attention and the utmost professionalism and compassion.

Our concern for the wishes of decedents and trust grantors, together with our sensitivity to the needs of heirs and beneficiaries, is the cornerstone of our probate practice. We regularly handle Florida Probate cases throughout Florida and work with out-of-state personal representatives, beneficiaries and relatives to settle Florida estates.

We can assist you with the following:

  • Florida Formal probate administration
  • Florida Summary probate administration
  • Florida Ancillary probate administration
  • Asset distribution
  • Beneficiary rights under a will or trust
  • Complex postmortem estate planning
  • Florida Estate administration and litigation
  • Preparation of the federal and state estate tax returns
  • Florida Trust Administration and litigation
  • Representation of Personal Representatives
  • Representation of heirs and creditors
  • Preparation and audits of estate and gift tax returns
  • Post-mortem tax planning
  • Representing trustees in the administration of revocable and irrevocable trusts

What is Probate?

Probate is a court-supervised process of distributing property as directed in a will or in accordance with Florida law if no Will exists. Since there is court supervision of the entire process, the heirs/beneficiaries can be assured of a full and fair valuation and distribution of the estate. Probate is necessary whenever a deceased person leaves titled assets in their name alone, such as a South Florida home or condo.

The Florida Probate Administration Process

The executor of a Last Will and Testament, also called the personal representative, is responsible for the administration of the decedent’s probate estate. That process includes collecting the decedent’s assets, paying any debts or taxes owed, filing the decedent’s final tax returns and inventory, distributing the remaining assets in accordance with the provisions of the will, and notifying companies that need to know about the death.

If the decedent created a Trust then the trustee is responsible for implementing the terms of the trust and filing a Notice of Trust with the court.

In Florida, the types of Probate procedures are:

  1. Formal Administration: Required for estates involving more than $75,000.00. It is a court-supervised proceeding where a will is admitted, a personal representative is appointed, Notice of Administration is sent to interested persons (surviving spouse, beneficiaries, etc.) and a Notice to Creditors is published to identify unknown creditors and sent to all known creditors. After the expiration of ninety days, creditors who fail to file a Statement of Claim lose their right to collect on the decedent’s debt. Assets are collected, debts and taxes are paid and after the distribution of Estate assets is made the Estate is closed and the personal representative is relieved of all duties and liabilities to the Estate.
  2. Summary Administration: Can be utilized if the value of the estate is $75,000.00 or if the decedent is dead for more than two years. The persons who receive the estate assets remain liable to creditors of the decedent for two years after the date of death unless a Notice to Creditors is published.

All of a decedent’s assets together make up the decedent’s estate. For estate tax reporting purposes the IRS defines estate as the total collection of a decedent’s assets whether or not they pass through probate. After an estate’s assets have been valued, if the decedent’s gross estate exceeds the federal estate tax credit exemption amount, (for 2018-$11.2 Million) or the surviving spouse elects “portability” of the decedent spouse’s remaining federal estate tax credit exemption amount, then a Form 706 (Estate Tax Return) must be filed with the IRS.

If a death occurs, the firm will assist the personal representative, family, and beneficiaries with compassion and sensitivity. The firm is involved in all aspects of estate and trust administration. We represent individual clients and corporate fiduciaries in the probate process which typically includes admitting the will, qualifying the fiduciaries, tax planning (including post-mortem planning) and preparing inventories and accountings, collecting assets, notifying creditors and paying debts. We will also make sure that the appropriate tax returns are filed, that taxes are promptly paid and finally, that the balance of the estate assets is distributed to all beneficiaries with care and understanding.

Florida Estate Settlement

Even if an estate does not require a probate administration, all estates must be settled. There are still documents to be filed, debts and taxes to be paid and assets to be distributed. Estate Administration is the process by which a decedent’s total estate, which includes both probate and non-probate assets, is settled. Probate assets are properties that were owned by the decedent that were not owned “jointly” with survivorship rights by another. Non-probate assets are property held in a revocable trust, joint assets, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, annuities, homestead property, automobiles, boats, etc. Some assets do not go through probate but are considered part of the estate for federal estate tax purposes, therefore if an estate is taxable, or if the surviving spouse elects “portability” of the decedent spouse’s remaining federal estate tax credit exemption amount, a Form 706 must be filed.

Real estate, on the other hand, almost always requires some sort of probate or other legal steps to be taken after the owner dies. This is because title to real estate is based upon a “chain of title” in the county records, and title insurers want to be sure exactly who inherited the property without requiring an order of probate court.

Florida Probate Law

Florida law requires that virtually all estates have a Florida probate attorney or Florida probate law firm assist with the estate administration. As a Florida probate attorney with an Estate Planning Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree, Attorney Barbara Buxton is here to help you with all probate and estate matters to settle an estate. Please contact our law office and let us know how we can help you if you need a probate attorney to handle Miami-Dade probate, Palm Beach, or Broward County, Florida probate.

Barbara Buxton, P.A. assists clients with Florida probate administration. If a family member or friend passed away owning assets or Florida property, such as a home or condominium, in his/her name alone, then a Florida probate must be initiated. Real estate has to go through probate in order to clear title so that the beneficiaries or heirs can inherit the property.

Florida residents outside of South Florida, and Out-of-state residents, please email and we will promptly contact you. Telephone, weekend and evening appointments are available.

South Florida Probate Court Links

The following are helpful links to some Florida Probate Court Websites to provide you with information about probate court.

Link to Broward County Probate Court

Link to Miami Dade County Probate Court

Link to Palm Beach County Probate Court