Probate - Guardianship
What is probate?
Probate is a legal process through which the assets of a deceased person are distributed to the heirs or beneficiaries. The
Court oversees the estate to make sure debts are disposed of an proper distribution is made.
How are probate proceedings initiated?
Probate proceedings are initiated with the filing of a Petition by an interested person asking to be appointed personal representative
and/or distribute property depending on size and complexity of property. The Petition is normally prepared by an attorney. The appointed
person will be responsible for the estate until all bills are paid and the balance of the estate is distributed to the rightful beneficiaries.
What type of paperwork must accompany the form for filing a Small Estate: Disposition without Administration?
The following must be provided. The original Will must be filed with the Clerk of the Circuit Court within ten days of the notice of death plus
an itemized, paid funeral bill. Receipt must identify individual paying bill. Paid receipts for any medical expenses incurred sixty days prior
to death. A certified death certificate. Specific information regarding the type of asset to be released (Example - copies of Bank Statements,
stock certificates). Identification of the person filing plus filing fee as set by Florida Statute.
What is a will? When and where should it be filed?
A will is a document executed by a person which disposes of his/her property after death. It generally names a personal representative
to administer the estate. The custodian of the will must deposit the original will with the Clerk of the Circuit Court, within 10 days after
receiving information that the person is deceased. The custodian should supply the person's date of death or the person's social security number
to the Clerk upon deposit of the will, if this information is available.
What happens if a person dies and has left no will?
A will is a document executed by a person which disposes of his/her property after death. It generally names a personal representative to administer the
estate. The custodian of the will must deposit the original will with the Clerk of the Circuit Court, within 10 days after receiving information that the
person is deceased. The custodian should supply the person's date of death or the person's social security number to the Clerk upon deposit of the will,
if this information is available.
What happens if there is a will filed, but no personal representative has been named?
It will be necessary for an attorney to petition the Court to appoint a personal representative to administer the estate.
What is a Will on Deposit?
An original will can be filed with the Clerk at any time for safe keeping.
What is a guardianship?
A guardianship is a legal proceeding in the circuit courts of Florida in which a guardian is appointed to represent (protect) the rights of a minor or
What is an incapacitated person (also called a ward)?
An incapacitated person is a person who has been determined by the court to lack the capacity to manage at least some of their property or to meet at least some of the
essential health and safety requirements of that person.
How is a person determined to be incapacitated?
A person petitions the court to determine another person’s incapacity and simultaneously petitions the court to appoint a guardian for that person. The court appoints
an attorney to represent the alleged incapacitated person. A committee appointed by the court examines the individual and reports their findings to the court. A hearing
is scheduled to determine the partial or total incapacity of the individual. If the court determines the person to be incapacitated, a guardian is usually appointed for
the incapacitated person.
What is a guardian?
A guardian is a person who has been appointed by the court to act on behalf of a ward’s person (Guardian of Person) or property (Guardian of Property), or both (Guardian
of Person and Property)
What are some of the responsibilities of a Guardian of a Property?
Managing the property of the incapacitated person, including:
1. Taking inventory of the property
2. Investing prudently
3. Using financial proceeds for the persons’ support
4. Filing detailed reports with the court
5. Obtaining court approval for certain financial transactions
What are some of the responsibilities of a Guardian of a Person?
Handing the responsibilities delegated in court for the person, such as
1. Providing medical, mental and personal care services
2. Determining the residential setting best suited to the person
3. Presenting a detailed plan to the court each year for the care of the incapacitated person
Is a guardianship permanent?
Not if a person partially or fully recovers from the incapacity. The court can reexamine the person and restore some or all of their rights when petitioned
What are the filing fees for the various types of Guardianship proceedings or related issues?
Refer to Fees for current filing fees.