Florida Probate Timeline and Deadlines

florida probate

When a loved one dies in Florida, you and your family will certainly need time to grieve their loss. But the Florida probate laws say you can’t wait too long before you begin the estate administration process. Having an estate administration attorney by your side from the start can help make sure all the Florida probate deadlines are met.

How Long Does Probate Take in Florida?

You must open a probate case any time a person in Florida dies with assets solely in their name. This estate administration case oversees the distribution of assets according to your loved one’s Will, or Florida intestate law, if they died without a Will. You should expect to be working with an estate administration attorney and the Florida probate court for anywhere from 3 months to 2 years. How long probate takes depends on:

Even with formal administration, most estates are resolved within 18 months. However, all claims against an estate must be filed within 2 years of the person’s death.

Some Important Florida Probate Deadlines

Deadline

Triggering Event

What Must be Done

10 days

Learning of death

File the original Will and initiate probate

20 days or 3 months

Service of Notice of Administration (sent before or after Letters of Administration)

Challenge the Will, Personal Representative, or probate court’s jurisdiction

30 days

Service of Notice to Creditors

On or before the later of the two listed deadlines - Filing creditor claims against the estate

3 months

Publication of Notice to Creditors

3 months

Publication of Notice to Creditors

Filing formal proof of death

4 months

Service of Notice of Administration

On or before the later of the two listed deadlines - Petition for exempt property

40 days

Completion of proceeding impacting validity, construction, or admission to probate of will.

6 months

Date of death

Elect to take Surviving Spouse’s homestead election

6 months

Service of Notice of Administration

On or before the earlier of the two listed deadlines - Elect to take Surviving Spouse’s elective share

2 years

Date of death

2 years

Date of death

Statute of repose on all claims against the estate

Florida Probate Timeline for Estate Administration

There are several steps that must be taken by the family, the personal representative, and the court during the probate process. Summary administration streamlines this process and removes some of these steps. Every case is different, and oftentimes different or additional steps may be required, but here is a general probate timeline.

  1. Initiate Probate by Depositing the Original Will
    Whoever has possession of the Last Will and Testament of the deceased must deposit it with the Florida Probate Court in the county where the person resided within 10 days of learning of their death. This, along with a petition for estate administration, starts the probate process.
  2. Appointment of Personal Representative with Letters of Administration
    Generally within 1 to 4 weeks, the probate court will issue letters of administration to the personal representative (also known as executor) appointed to administer the estate. This is usually the person designated in the Will.
  3. Send Out Notice of Administration to Heirs and Beneficiaries
    The personal representative must notify the beneficiaries listed in the Will, as well as any other potential heirs under the Florida intestate laws that an estate administration has begun. Once they receive notice, beneficiaries and other interested parties only have 20 days or 3 months to object to the Will, the appointment of a personal representative, or other technical aspects of the estate administration.
  4. Serve and Publish Notice to Creditors
    The personal representative must work with their estate administration attorney to identify and promptly notify the deceased’s creditors that the person has died, and that an estate has been opened. In addition, the notice to creditors must be published for two consecutive weeks, to notify any creditors whose interest may have been missed. Once they receive notice, the Florida probate rules require creditors to file their claims against the estate on or before the later of 30 days after service of notice or 3 months after publication of notice.
  5. Provide Proof of Death
    A formal death certificate or other proof of the deceased’s death must be filed with the court within 3 months after the publication of notice to creditors in a formal administration. It also must be filed before the entry of a summary administration.
  6. Inventory the Assets of the Estate
    Next, the executor must do an inventory of the estate’s assets and establish their value. An inventory of these assets and values must be filed with the court and sent to all beneficiaries.
  7. Respond to Creditor Claims
    If any creditors come forward within the 3 months after publication, the personal representative must respond to their claims by either paying them or objecting to bad debts within 30 days. Then the creditor has 30 days to file an independent action against the estate or the claim is waived.
  8. Address the Surviving Spouse’s Election Rights
    Florida probate law gives surviving spouses special rights to their shared home, certain exempt property, and a share of the deceased’s overall estate in place of whatever the Will left them. Spouses must generally choose whether to exercise these election rights within the first 6 months of the probate process.
  9. Distribute the Assets
    Once all the claims against the estate are satisfied, the personal representative can distribute the remaining assets according to the terms of the Will. Each beneficiary should sign a receipt or document acknowledging they have received their correct inheritance. Then the personal representative must file these with the court, generally within one year of receiving their Letters of Administration.
  10. Closure of the Estate
    Finally, once all the assets are distributed, the personal representative may file a petition to close the estate and end the probate process.

Get Help Meeting Your Family’s Estate Administration Deadlines

Formal estate administration is a complicated process with a lot of moving parts. It is important to have an experienced estate administration attorney by your side from the very start. At Harrison Estate Law, P.A., our estate and probate team can help meet all the deadlines and responsibilities a personal representative faces throughout the probate process. We will help you be sure your loved one’s wishes are honored and affairs are handled in a timely way. Contact us here or call 352-306-2374 to get help today.

Categories: Probate
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