Losing a loved one is never easy, and it can be even more complicated when it comes to dealing with their estate. Questions can abound, and mistakes could cost you time and money. The trauma of losing a loved one only maximizes your frustration and doubt.
Michelangelo Mortellaro and his team at Mortellaro Law understand these feelings. A Tampa Probate Attorney from our firm is a skilled legal professional in probate law, which involves settling a deceased person’s estate.
What does a Tampa probate attorney do and how can be of help during this difficult time?
The Role of a Tampa Probate Attorney
First and foremost, it is important to understand what probate is. Probate is “the legal process that occurs when a person dies that involves the validation and administration of their will.” This process oversees asset distribution, paying debts, and other steps to carry out the wishes of the deceased.
Local circuit courts in Florida oversee this process under Article V Section 20(3) of the state constitution. The court works to see that the deceased person’s debts are paid off and that their property is distributed according to their wishes (or according to state law if there is no will).
A probate attorney can be helpful in several ways during this process.
Estate Planning Before Probate
A Tampa probate attorney from Mortellaro Law can assist with the preparation of a will or help create a trust to avoid the probate process altogether. Without a will, Florida law determines who inherits your property. A probate attorney can help you create a Health Care Proxy, Living Will, and Power of Attorney to safeguard your assets and record your wishes.
There are many complexities that can affect an estate plan. Estate taxes must be considered. Your family situation and the number, type, and value of assets are important considerations. You may want to consider a Living Trust to provide long-term protection from incapacity or to avoid the probate process.
You will likely need a skilled probate attorney to provide legal guidance and support throughout the entire probate process. This can include representing the executor (the person responsible for administering the estate) in court proceedings, filing the necessary paperwork with the court, and ensuring that all legal requirements are met.
A Tampa probate attorney can also help with other details of administering the estate, like collecting and validating assets, paying debts, and distributing property to the heirs or beneficiaries.
Not all Florida estates go through the probate process. In some cases, such as when the deceased person’s assets are held in a trust, probate may not be necessary. However, it is always a good idea to consult a probate attorney to determine the best course of action for your situation.
Validating a Will
There are multiple rules governing validating a will. Sometimes, even a valid will that was written and executed in another state is not valid under Florida law; additional filings may be required, taking more time. You have 10 days after learning of the decedent’s death to deposit their original will with the Clerk of the County Circuit Court presiding over the decedent’s county of residence.
If the original will cannot be found, the court may accept a copy, but additional steps are necessary to validate it. A Tampa probate attorney will know how to proceed in this case and help you produce a valid will.
For Those Who Die Without a Will
If your loved one dies without a will or it is deemed invalid, their assets will pass according to state law. This scenario, called dying “intestate,” can mean the estate will be distributed in ways the family or the decedent did not want. Some circumstances can make this even more complicated, such as multiple marriages, children from multiple marriages, special needs family members, or loved ones receiving government assistance.
A Tampa probate attorney from Mortellaro Law can help you handle these and other possible situations when a loved one dies intestate. Contact us today for more information.
Get Help from an Experienced Tampa Probate Attorney
A Tampa probate attorney from Mortellaro Law is a valuable resource for anyone dealing with the estate of a deceased loved one. We can provide legal guidance and support throughout the probate process, ensuring that all legal requirements are met, and the deceased person’s wishes are fulfilled.
If you need probate assistance, don’t hesitate to contact Mortellaro Law in Tampa for qualified probate advice and guidance in your area.