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Probate Documentation: Disposition of Personal Property

Category: News

Individuals and couples planning for disposition of their personal property after their passing have several different options. These options all involve various different forms of documentation and deciding on an appropriate estate plan requires careful guidance and thoughtful consideration of a variety of family, legal and tax-related issues.

When someone dies without a will in Florida, his or her property gets distributed according to the law. The Florida Probate Code provides comprehensive guidelines for distribution of a person’s final property and filing for probate without a will involves various forms and other documents as well.

At South West Florida Probate Trial Lawyers, we know the process can be confusing. The documentation and terminology alone can be enough to cause most people to give up on the whole idea. If you are in the process of filing for probate or have concerns about the administration of your loved one’s estate, the following guide may help get you pointed in the right direction.

Documents Involved in Probate and Distribution Without Administration

In the probate process, the most important document is the decedent’s will (assuming he or she prepared one). A will is a formal document that specifies how the decedent’s personal property is to be distributed upon his or her death. It will also typically name a personal representative who will be the person responsible for carrying out his or her final wishes through the probate process. To initiate the probate process, an interested party must also file a Petition for Administration.

If filing for disposition of personal property without administration, the following documents will typically need to be submitted to the court:

• Death certificate
• Funeral bill and receipt for payment
• Receipts for recent medical expenses
• Records identifying the personal property to be distributed

These and numerous other documents will frequently play a role in the probate administration process. Remember: Unless the decedent has assets that are not subject to probate, this is where all of his or her property will be identified and distributed. Depending on the size of the estate and the types of property involved, this may also involve account statements, titles, bank records and numerous other forms of documentation. Many times, the complexities involved lead to will contests and other disputes.

Estate Planning Documents Not Subject to Probate: The Trust

For some people, estate planning involves avoiding the probate process entirely. Probate can be confusing and time-consuming and this leads many people to structure their estate plans to provide for disposition of their personal property through alternate means. One of the most common documents used to distribute property outside of probate is a trust. Trusts can take various forms, though one of the most common is what is known as a “revocable trust” or “revocable living trust.”

Following the decedent’s passing, the person identified as the trustee must file a Notice of Trust with the court. This document is intended to put any creditors on notice of their right to assert a claim against the trust assets. If beneficiaries, creditors or others (such as family members not named in the trust) have a dispute over what is said or intended by the decedent’s trust documents, their differences will typically need to be resolved through trust litigation in court.

Speak With One of Our Fort Myers Probate Attorneys Today

South West Florida Probate Trial Lawyers has a team of seasoned litigators with over 200 years of combined trial experience. If you have questions about a probate matter or need help enforcing your rights through probate litigation, we encourage you to contact us for a free initial consultation.