Probate Questions Answered by St. Petersburg Estate Planning Attorney
Find answers to the most common questions asked of St. Petersburg estate planning attorney David P. Folkenflik.
1. What happens in probate if the decedent does not have a will?
In the absence of a will, state law determines the beneficiaries of the estate. The property first goes to the spouse, then to children. In cases where there is not a spouse or children, the estate goes to parents, siblings, or grandparents, as directed by law. If the court fails to find any relations, then the estate becomes the state’s property.
2. Why must a court be involved in the process?
The court must divide an estate to ensure that it is done legally. Creditors and taxes must be paid, the remaining property must be divided according to the wishes of the decedent, and deeds must be reassigned. It is possible to limit a court’s involvement, but it cannot be eliminated altogether.
3. What does a probate judge do?
If none of the beneficiaries or potential heirs contest the will, then the process can run smoothly and quickly. The probate judge will validate the will and hear the heirs’ agreements. The official documents are then signed, and the division of property can proceed. In cases where the heirs contest the will, the probate judge listens to all arguments, reviews the will, and makes a decision on how the estate will be divided. This process can take significantly longer than it would for an uncontested will.
For answers to additional probate questions, please contact an estate planning attorney for a free, no-obligation consultation.
About The Law Offices Of David P. Folkenflik, P.A.
David P. Folkenflik, PA, is a St. Petersburg law firm handling Estate Planning and Probate Law matters in Florida. They help clients formulate effective Estate Plans by preparing Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney, and Health Care Surrogate Designations. The firm's probate lawyers handle Trust Administrations and assist Personal Representatives and Trustees during the probate process in St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park, Largo, Seminole, Dunedin, Palm Harbor, Clearwater, Tierra Verde, St. Pete Beach, Indian Rocks, Belleair, and throughout the state of Florida. Visit www.flwillstrusts.com or call (727) 548-4529 to learn more about the firm.
David P. Folkenflik, P.A.