Probate & Trust Administration
For over 30 years, Walser Law Firm has exclusively concentrated on estate planning, probate administration, trust administration, and elder law.
Our experienced Boca Raton probate and trust administration lawyers provide legal guidance to personal representatives and successor trustees for every step of the way.
Probate vs Trust Administration
Probate is the legal process through which a deceased person’s estate is properly distributed to heirs and designated beneficiaries, in addition to any debt owed being paid off to creditors. In this case, a personal representative, usually a trusted family member or a close friend, is in charge of administering an estate.
Florida Probate Administration
Also called an executor in many states, the personal representative is tasked with numerous duties to ultimately transfer property from the decedent’s estate to the heirs. In addition the personal representative must make sure that taxes and creditors are paid before assets are distributed to beneficiaries.
The Duties of a Personal Representative
The duties you undertake as a personal representative include:
- Opening the estate upon appointment by the court
- Gathering and valuing your loved one’s assets
- Filing an inventory of assets
- Publishing notice to creditors of your loved one’s death
- Paying viable debts owed by your loved one
- Filing your loved one’s final tax return
- Paying state and federal taxes, including estate taxes
- Closing accounts, such as Social Security, health insurance and phone service
- Distributing remaining property according to the will’s provisions
- Closing the estate
Types of Probate Administration
Estates may be administered through a variety of processes, depending upon specific factors. Your loved one’s estate may be probated through:
- Formal administration — Most estates require formal administration, which involves close supervision by the probate court during each phase. Even if not necessary, you may choose formal administration under certain circumstances.
- Summary administration — The estate may be eligible for this expedited form of probate if the estate is worth $75,000 or less and debts are already paid off. However, the summary process imposes liability on heirs for up to two years from the date of the decedent’s death.
- Ancillary administration — An estate being administered in another state, but that includes property in Florida is subject to ancillary administration to properly deal with the Florida assets.
Your loved one may also have created an inter-vivos trust during her or his lifetime or a testamentary trust through the will. The person or institution named as trustee is responsible for administering this document. We help you to effectively carry out your duties as a personal representative or trustee.
The main difference between trust administration and probate is that trust administration is not a court-supervised process. When a person dies, leaving a valid trust, a trust administration becomes necessary to carry out the wishes according to provisions outlined in the trust document.
Our experienced Boca Raton trust administration lawyers provide legal guidance to successor trustees who must administer an estate. Probate is generally not required if the decedent had a properly drafted and funded trust. Nonetheless, the successor trustee must take certain steps to administer the trust.
These steps include:
- Contacting beneficiaries and keeping them informed;
- Gathering and investing the trust-maker’s assets;
- Notifying potential creditors;
- Paying debts;
- Filing tax returns; and,
- Distributing assets and/or income to beneficiaries in conformity with the trust’s provisions.
Our experienced attorneys will assist successor trustees who lack the time, resources or knowledge to personally deal with the complexities of trust administration.