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Probate in Southwest Florida – What to Know

Local southwest Florida Probate lawyer, James Nici, in this brief video reviews four things to know about probate. Probate was not “invented” in the traditional sense, but rather it developed over centuries as a legal process to address certain societal and legal needs. Its origins can be traced back to ancient Roman and English legal systems.

The concept of probate serves several important historical and contemporary purposes:

Probate’s Primary Purpose is Asset Distribution

One of the primary purposes of probate is to ensure the orderly distribution of a deceased person’s assets. In earlier times, this was crucial to prevent disputes and maintain social order. Without a legal process like probate, there was a risk of assets being misappropriated or contested by various claimants. Probate formalizes the transfer of assets by validating the authenticity of a will and the appointment of an executor or administrator. This ensures that the deceased person’s wishes, as expressed in their will, are respected.

Creditor Protection

Probate provides a mechanism for identifying and paying the deceased person’s debts and obligations. It protects the interests of creditors by establishing a process for them to make claims against the estate and receive payment. Settling an estate also may include paying any final tax bills.

Dispute Resolution in Probate Court

Probate courts also serve as forums for resolving disputes related to the deceased person’s estate. This includes challenges to the validity of the will, disputes among heirs or beneficiaries, and issues related to the administration of the estate.

Preserving Historical Record

Probate also serves as a means of recording and preserving property ownership and inheritance records, which are important for taxation and social stability.

Contact James Nici for Help with Probate in Southwest Florida

While the fundamental principles of probate have remained consistent over time, modern probate laws have evolved to streamline and expedite the process, in theory to make it more efficient and accessible.  However, given that most folks have never dealt with probate in Collier County, its processes, requirements, and complexities are often stress inducing and confusing. Having a Naples probate lawyer like James Nici help you through the process is often a popular choice. The cost of the lawyer is paid out of the estate’s proceeds in most cases so beneficiaries are not burdened with an expense in order to receive their inheritance.

Our office is located in Naples but we serve communities in the southwest Florida area from Sanibel to Marco Island.  Message us online or call us at (239) 449-6150.

4 Things You Need to Know About Probate

What is probate?

Probate is the court-supervised disposition of assets when someone passes away. If someone has a will that's referred to as dying testate, which means with a will. That's where the court will make sure that the beneficiaries designated under the will, will receive the assets, but also creditors will be paid. If an individual dies without a will, that's referred to as dying intestate.

Do all assets go through probate?

All assets do not go through probate. Those assets that are owned in a decedent's name at the time of their death, will pass through probate. However, assets such as life insurance, annuities, and retirement plans where there's a beneficiary designation will pass according to the terms of that beneficiary designation. Additionally, assets that are owned jointly with rights of survivorship or assets titled in the name of a Revocable Trust will also avoid probate.

Should all assets be titled jointly with my child to avoid probate?

Generally speaking, I do not recommend that my clients own their assets jointly with their children. The main reason for this is those assets that are owned jointly with the child, are exposed to that child's creditors. I would hate for my clients to lose their assets because their child was embroiled in a lawsuit.

What happens if I die without a will?

An individual who dies without a will is said to have died intestate. In such a case, there are Florida statutes that specifically provide who will inherit that individual's assets.

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