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Probate in Florida

The full probate process in Florida can be complex and generally takes about a year to complete. Sometimes probate can be completed within 6 months of filing the will, and other times, depending on complexities, responsiveness of heir/beneficiaries, and the Court, this process can take longer than a year.

Here is a general timeline of the Full Estate probate process in Florida:

Event During Probate Process Deadline and additional Information
Filing of Will If a Will exists, the Will must be filed by the named Personal Representative (Executor) within 10 days of date of death. If the Personal Representative does not file the will within 60 days, any named beneficiary or interested party in the Will can file the Will and open a probate proceeding after providing the Personal Representative 10 days notice.

State law allows for two years for the Will to be entered into court records, but it is certainly best practice to file the Will sooner.

Qualification of Personal Representative Qualification of a Personal Representative (Executor or Administrator) occurs upon the proper filing of an Application for Letters. An Application for Letters Testamentary is filed if a Will exists. An Application for Letters of Administration is filed if no Will exists.

In addition to the Application for Letters, various other documents must be filed to properly qualify (i.e. original Will, original Death Certificate, Oath, potentially a Bond or Bond Waivers, potentially a Renunciation of Right to Qualify, and potentially a Resident Process Agent if you are not a North Carolina resident).

Service of Notice to Creditors 30 Days
Notice to Creditors 733.2121 Notice to creditors; filing of claims.—

(1) Unless creditors’ claims are otherwise barred by s. 733.710, the personal representative shall promptly publish a notice to creditors. The notice shall contain the name of the decedent, the file number of the estate, the designation and address of the court in which the proceedings are pending, the name and address of the personal representative, the name and address of the personal representative’s attorney, and the date of first publication. The notice shall state that creditors must file claims against the estate with the court during the time periods set forth in s. 733.702, or be forever barred.

(2) Publication shall be once a week for 2 consecutive weeks, in a newspaper published in the county where the estate is administered or, if there is no newspaper published in the county, in a newspaper of general circulation in that county.

(3)(a) The personal representative shall promptly make a diligent search to determine the names and addresses of creditors of the decedent who are reasonably ascertainable, even if the claims are unmatured, contingent, or unliquidated, and shall promptly serve a copy of the notice on those creditors. Impracticable and extended searches are not required. Service is not required on any creditor who has filed a claim as provided in this part, whose claim has been paid in full, or whose claim is listed in a personal representative’s timely filed proof of claim.

(b) The personal representative is not individually liable to any person for giving notice under this section, even if it is later determined that notice was not required. The service of notice to creditors in accordance with this section shall not be construed as admitting the validity or enforceability of a claim.

(c) If the personal representative in good faith fails to give notice required by this section, the personal representative is not liable to any person for the failure. Liability, if any, for the failure is on the estate.

Florida law requires that every Personal Representative notify by publication all persons, firms, and corporations having claims against the decedent’s estate to present them to the Personal Representative on or before a day named in the notice which must be at least 3 months from the date of the first publication. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 28A-14-1(a)

Inventory of Probate Assets Within 3 months after the date of qualification (when Letters are issued), the Personal Representative must file with the Clerk an inventory of all the real and personal property of the decedent. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 28A-20
Closing the Estate Petition to Close Estate According to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 28A-21-2, the Final Account for the estate is due by the later of (1) one year after the date of qualification, (2) six months after a North Carolina estate or inheritance tax release or (3) the 15th day of the fourth month after the close of the fiscal year for the estate, unless the time for filing the Final Account has been extended by the Clerk. Until a Final Account is filed, the Personal Representative is required to file an Annual Account with the Clerk for so long as estate assets remain within the Personal Representative’s possession or control. Although uncommon, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 28A-21-6 permits a Personal Representative to provide written notice of a proposed Final Account o all heirs/beneficiaries. This notice is not required, but it provides protection for the Personal Representative from a challenge to the Personal Representative’s actions that might not be raised until after all distributions have been made
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