Probate is a court-supervised process for identifying and gathering the assets of a deceased person (decedent), paying the decedent’s debts and distributing the decedent’s assets to his or her beneficiaries. In general, the decedent’s assets are paid pursuant to a statutory schedule reflecting priority of certain classes of expenses and debts, such as administrative expenses and creditor’s claims, before the remainder is distributed to the decedent’s beneficiaries or heirs. The Florida Probate Code is found in Chapters 731 through 735 of the Florida Statutes. There are three types of probate administration under Florida law: formal administration, summary administration and disposition of personal property without administration. Formal administration encompasses both testate and intestate estates. Testate estates are those that administer a will. Intestate estates are those not effectively disposed of by a will and pass to the decedent’s heirs pursuant to Sections 732.102 and 732.103, Florida Statutes.
Probate litigation: Even without any will or trust contest, adversarial proceedings may arise during the course of an estate administration or trust administration when assets have not been properly reflected or are missing from the inventory, when closure and distribution of the estate or trust is unreasonably delayed, and when challenges are raised regarding the amount of administrative fees reflected on an accounting distributed to a beneficiary or heir. Independent actions may also be brought by creditors whose claims were objected to in the probate administration, and litigation may follow based upon elective share rights that are invoked by the surviving spouse in the probate estate.
High-asset probate or trust litigation: High net worth estates and trusts often give rise to significant estate disputes when a family member passes away. The testamentary capacity of the decedent when he or she signed the will or trust agreement may be questioned as well as the actions of the trustee or trustees managing assets in an inter vivos trust prior to or following death. The Law Offices of Glenn M. Mednick, P.L., has extensive experience pursuing and defending actions involving high net worth trust litigation, will disputes and other estate litigation.