Tampa Probate Attorney
Probate is the process by which assets passing through a will or under the rules of intestacy are distributed to the appropriate beneficiaries or heirs. A personal representative ensures that taxes and creditors are paid and that the beneficiaries take clean title to their distributions. Many difficulties can arise when probating an estate, so it is wise to retain the services of a probate attorney to assist you in this process. Contact our experienced Tampa probate attorneys today.
It can be easy to ignore the need for estate planning, and merely focus on the present state of your finances. Thinking about the future of your estate may be difficult, however, it is something everyone should consider. Drafting a will, creating trusts, and utilizing other legal estate planning tools are important steps to ensuring the financial well-being of your estate and family. It is time to think about your family’s financial future. For straightforward, practical legal advice, contact Tampa probate attorney, David Toback. He will work closely with you to ensure your estate planning goals are met.
What Is Probate?
Most people are familiar with the purpose of a will. Wills, like other estate planning tools, allow people to determine what will happen to their estate after they pass away. Legally speaking, an estate is the total of someone’s assets and property. However, many Tampa residents may not be familiar with probate, a legal process by which a decedent’s property is distributed after they die.
Generally, probate occurs regardless of whether the deceased had a will. If he or she had a will, the probate process allows the heirs to inherit specified assets or property. If the deceased passed without a will, or died “intestate,” state law determines who receives the assets. Florida intestacy laws list a prioritized order of family members who will receive the assets, starting with the surviving spouse. If there are no surviving relatives, the deceased’s estate will be taken by the state of Florida.
In some cases, a will does not need to be probated. Additionally, certain assets do not need to be probated either, since the ownership rights automatically pass to the deceased’s heirs. For example, if you create a living trust, the assets in the trust do not have to be probated. Whether or not an estate is required to go through the probate process depends on the type of asset and the circumstances of the case. For more information and assistance, contact our Tampa probate attorneys today.
Representations of Executors and Administrators
When a decedent’s property passes to beneficiaries through a will or under Florida’s intestacy rules, a personal representative administers the estate. When the decedent named a personal representative in his or her will, that representative is called the executor of the estate. The representative will be appointed by the probate court and is known as the administrator if the decedent either failed to name an executor or did not leave a valid will.
The personal representative is responsible for paying the debts of the estate and then distributing the assets, and owes fiduciary duties to the beneficiaries and creditors of the decedent. These duties can be quite complex and involved, and if the representative makes a mistake, he or she may be liable. If you have been charged with probating an estate, our Tampa probate attorney can help you navigate Florida’s probate process and, if you are being sued for improper administration of the estate, represent you in a lawsuit.
Transferring Estate Assets
An administrator’s or executor’s first major duty is to pay all taxes and creditors of the estate. Next, the representative must distribute the remaining estate assets to the appropriate beneficiaries or heirs. An essential part of that duty is ensuring that the beneficiaries take clean title to the assets, which means ensuring that no other party has any claim on the assets. The personal representative also has the responsibility of retitling assets like real property or cars in the beneficiaries’ names.
After all creditors have been paid and all assets distributed, if the personal representative has complied with all legal requirements, the beneficiaries have sole ownership of their distributions. If you are the executor or administrator of an estate, an attorney can help you ensure that creditors are paid, assets are distributed, and the formalities of the probate process are complied with. Contact our Tampa probate attorney for more information.
Federal Estate Tax
Florida residents are subject to the federal estate tax, though the state does not assess its own estate or inheritance tax. Many estates will never have to pay an estate tax, however, because of the large exemption amount. In 2015, the first $5.43 million of a decedent’s estate, or the first $10.86 million of the estate of a surviving spouse who has elected portability, is exempt from estate taxation. If a decedent’s estate exceeds that amount, however, any amount over the exemption amount is taxed at 40 percent. If an estate exceeds $5.43 million, or if a surviving spouse wishes to elect portability, the personal representative of the estate must file an estate tax return. Filling out this form is very complicated, and should generally only be attempted by an experienced attorney.
If you have been appointed the executor or administrator of an estate, an experienced Tampa probate attorney can help you navigate Florida’s complex probate process. Please contact Tampa estate planning attorney David Toback today for a free initial consultation.
How Can an Attorney Help Me?
Handling a probate matter after the death of a loved one can be emotional and frustrating. No one wants their families to have to deal with challenging legal issues at such a difficult time. Proper estate planning can give you and your family peace of mind for the future. An experienced Tampa probate attorney can help you prepare your estate. When the time comes, your probate lawyer can help guide your family through the process, making sure your wishes are carried out. There are many estate planning choices to consider. Be sure to consult with a reputable probate lawyer to explore your options.
Contact An Experienced Tampa Probate Attorney Today
David Toback, Attorney at Law, has helped countless Tampa area residents work through the probate process. With over 17 years of legal experience, David Toback understands the Florida probate system and how to use estate planning laws to your advantage. He has handled even the most financially complex probate issues, while focusing on his clients’ needs and goals. If you have questions about planning your estate, or are facing a probate issue, contact Tampa probate attorney, David Toback today.