Probate & Guardianship

Probate is the legal process through which a deceased person's assets are distributed to the heirs or beneficiaries, according to the wishes of the deceased as stated in The Last Will and Testament or if there is no will, according to Florida Law. The Court oversees the estate to ensure that all debts are paid and assets are properly distributed.

Whether or not an estate is required to go through Probate depends on the assets that the decedent owned at the time of his or her death. Probate is needed when a court order is required to transfer ownership of the deceased's properties or to distribute the assets of the estate. For instance, if a decedent solely owned any real property at the time of his or her death, the estate would be required to go through the Probate process in order to transfer title of that real property to the decedent's heirs or beneficiaries. In this type of situation, the beneficiaries or heirs would need to seek the assistance of an attorney as our office can not provide legal or procedural advice. Probate is not needed if all assets were jointly held and one of the joint holders is the survivor.

  1. Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration
  2. Wills
  3. Mental Health
  4. Adult Protective Services
  5. Petition to Determine Incapacity / Guardianship

There are times however, when our office can assist heirs and beneficiaries through a process referred to as a Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration. This process is also sometimes referred to as a Small Estate Proceeding. Please refer to Florida Statute 735.301 to determine if you are eligible for this type of process. This form may not be used when real property is involved. If you are unsure as to whether this process applies to your situation, you may wish to contact an attorney.

The required forms and documentation for a Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration are as follows:

  • Original Last Will and Testament of the decedent, if one exists
  • Death Certificate, certified copy
  • Copy of the statement from funeral home showing by whom the bill was paid
  • Signed and notarized consents from all heirs, if any
  • Copy of the bank statement, stock certificates, insurance checks, policy value information forms, or any related information regarding the assets that you are attempting to transfer with this procedure

Once these required forms and documents are in order, please come to the Probate Division for assistance. One of our staff will assist you in completing the petition for this procedure and will present it to the presiding probate judge. The filing fee of $231.00 is due at the time the Petition is filed. There is also a $3.00 charge for one additional certified copy of the Order for Payment of Funds which is generally required by the institution holding the assets. If the judge approves the petition, an Order for Payment of Funds will be entered by the probate court which directs that the assets in question be distributed as outlined in the petition.