Broward County Probate and Estate Administration

The Florida Probate Administration is the court process of gathering and passing ownership of the assets of an individual who has died (the decedent) to their beneficiaries. If the decedent left a valid last will and testament it will be admitted by the Court and the administration of the estate is considered testate. The beneficiaries of a testate estate are those directed by the will. 

If the decedent did not leave a valid last will and testament or if the will isn’t capable of being admitted by the court (perhaps because the original was lost or it was not executed with the required formalities) the administration is considered intestate. An intestate administration also applies for any part of an estate no effectively disposed or by will. For intestate estates, Florida law dictates who the beneficiaries are. Intestate heirs are a surviving spouse or other heirs as determined by law. Other heirs could be descendants of the decedent, the decedent’s mother or father, or the survivors of them including bothers and sisters or their descendants. The shares of the intestate heirs is determined by the descendants relationship to the decedent or the decedent’s surviving spouse. 

A large function of the Florida Probate Administration is to deal with claims of creditors of the decedent. Florida has very unique and sometimes complicated exemptions which apply to creditor claims. Beneficiaries exposure to the claims of the decedent’s creditors depends on the extent and nature of the assets they receive from the estate. This makes it extremely important to exercise any exemptions that apply and try to further limit creditor claims by taking early steps to shorten the period creditors can file claims in the estate. Creditor claims are permitted up to two years from the date of decedent’s death. This period can be shortened substantially with the proper steps.

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It is important to properly plan your estate succession in advance. For more information on how to set up your own will, trust or estate plan please feel free to check out this page.

Our Attorneys and Staff are Available to Consult with you.

The attorneys and staff and Law Offices of Oates & Oates have been helping families in South Florida probate their loved ones’ estates since 1978. We would be pleased to meet with you to see how we might help in your probate administration needs. We routinely consult with prospective clients by phone or in our office. Call the office today and ask to speak with someone about how we might be able to help you and your family.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

An administration of an estate may be required for individuals who passed away and were residents of Broward County or had property located in Broward County.
The custodian of a Last Will and Testament is required by law to file the original with the clerk of the court having venue of the estate of the decedent within 10 days after receiving information that the testator is dead. The custodian must supply the testator’s date of death or the last four digits of the testator’s social security number to the clerk upon deposit. It is recommended to do this with the assistance of counsel.
In the process of a Broward County Probate Case, some documents are filed with the Broward County Public Records although, because of privacy concerns the content of the documents are not available for online public access. For example, the Broward County Property Appraiser reviews the recorded documents concerning real property such as a personal representative’s deed or order for summary administration and will update their records to show the proper legal owners of the Broward Probate Real Estate.Likewise, copies of death certificates and last will and testaments are also restricted from public online access.
The process of publishing for creditors is required in Broward County Probate Cases. There may be an exception for decedents who passed away more than two years ago. Other times it may be a good idea to publish in order to reduce or eliminate the claims period in which creditors can file claims in an estate. The personal representative has a duty to find creditors which are not known or are not reasonably ascertainable to dispense with rights they may have against beneficiaries receiving property from the estate. Dispensing with creditor claims is important because claims of creditors attach to the estate assets in proportion to the amount and receipt of assets they receive from the estate and creditors can force beneficiaries to pay or divest assets to settle claims.
Broward County Probate Court is located in the main downtown circuit courthouse, 201 SE 6th Street, Ft. Lauderdale. The Satellite Court houses in Broward are not yet set up to handle probate cases.
The Broward County Probate Court Judges are the Honorable Marc H. Gold, Charles M. Greene, and Mark A. Speiser.
The filing fees for a Petition for Formal Administration in Broward County Probate Court is $401. There are other fees which may apply as well.
There are legal preferences in the appointment of the personal representative (PR). Preferences by statute include the PR or a successor named in a will, a person selected by a majority of the beneficial interests, or a devisee selected by the Court. For estates without a will, the preference is similar except where there is a surviving spouse who will receive a higher preference, or for non-Florida resident who may not be appointed to serve unless some other preference or exception applies. There also some disqualifying factors including a felony conviction, mental or physical disability or under 18 years old.
Unless the bond requirement has been waived in the will or by the Court, a personal representative may need to obtain a bond in order to be issued the letters of administration. The Court may consider alternatives and waive a bond requirement, or place other limitations on the personal representative in lieu of a bond. The amount of the bond is within the discretion of the Court. A bond is typically set in a sufficient amount relative to the size, type and nature of the estate assets, the relationship of the personal representative to the beneficiaries, and the liens or encumbrances on the assets.

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The information above was considered up to date at the time this page was created. Please call to verify that you have the most up to date information before relying on the helpful information on this page.