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Probate Court: What You Need to Know About Filing a Will in Florida

Category: News

When a person dies with a will, his or her wishes as stated in the will must be carried out through the probate process. In order to initiate the probate process, the will must be filed with the court and the person responsible for administering the decedent’s estate (known as a “personal representative” in Florida) must make sure that the estate’s assets are managed properly until probate is complete. In this article, we provide an overview of what you need to know about filing a will in Florida.

Keep in mind that this article provides general information and does not constitute legal advice. You should always speak with a lawyer before taking any action involving a will or probate, and the clerk’s office of your county court may be able to provide additional information as well.

When Does a Will Need to Be Filed?

In Bonita Springs, a will should be filed within 10 days of the holder of the will (known as a “custodian”) learning of the decedent’s passing. The custodian must also provide the decedent’s date of death and Social Security Number at the time of filing.

Where Should a Will be Filed?

A will should typically be filed with the clerk of the circuit court for the county where the decedent lived at the time of death. You can find information on the Lee County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office here.

What Happens After a Will is Filed?

Once the will is filed with the court, someone will need to be identified to serve as the personal representative. The personal representative may be named in the will (in fact, this is usually the case), but if the will is silent, then the court will appoint a personal representative.

Do I Need a Lawyer to File a Will?

You do not necessarily need a lawyer to file a will. However, if you will be serving as personal representative and you are named as a beneficiary in the will, or if you otherwise think that you are entitled to a share of the decedent’s estate, then you may need to hire an attorney to represent you.

Does Filing a Will Initiate the Probate Process?

No. The probate process must be initiated separately through the filing of a Petition for Administration.

What if There Isn’t a Will to File?

When someone dies without a will, this means that either:

  • His or her estate will be distributed according to Florida’s laws governing intestate succession, or
  • He or she left other estate planning documents designed to avoid the probate process.

In either case, documents still need to be filed with the court, and those who believe they are entitled to a share of the decedent’s estate should consider hiring a lawyer to help enforce their rights.

South West Florida Probate Trial Lawyers | Serving Bonita Springs, FL

At South West Florida Probate Trial Lawyers, we provide experienced legal representation for will contests and other types of probate litigation. If you would like to speak with one of our Bonita Springs probate lawyers about your probate dispute, call our offices at (800) 785-0647 or request a free consultation online today.