Every state has a probate process: legal steps through which property is transferred from the dead to the living. If there is a will, it is admitted to probate court to initiate the process. If there is not a will, the state appoints a representative and follows the laws of intestacy. Here is a snapshot of the probate process in Florida.
Formal Administration and Personal Representatives
In Florida, as in many states, there is a streamlined, aka summary, probate process, that can take as little as eight weeks. Summary administration is applicable when the total value of the estate is less then $75,000. The summary process can also be applied when the person who died, known as the decedent, has been dead for over two years. As Florida Probate Law Group explains, formal administration is more involved:
Formal administration is required for any estate with non-exempt assets valued at over $75,000 when a decedent died less than two years ago. Formal administration is also required any time that a personal representative is needed to settle the affairs of the decedent. A personal representative…is a person appointed by the court to legally represent the estate. A personal representative can do anything the decedent could do when they were alive, and has a duty to ensure that the estate is distributed fairly to beneficiaries/heirs and creditors….
The first step in a formal probate administration is to seek the appointment of a personal representative….The proposed personal representative will file a Petition for Administration with the Circuit Court having jurisdiction over the estate, and must also take an oath to lawfully administer the estate. If the personal representative is accepted, they are given “Letters of Administration” which give power over the estate. Personal Representatives are sometimes required to pay a bond.
Personal Representative Bond?
Given the significant fiduciary duties of personal representatives, courts often require a bond, such as a personal representative bond to protect the interests of the estate and its beneficiaries in accordance with state law. Essentially, a personal representative bond guarantees the faithful performance of the appointed representative.
As a leading national fiduciary bond provider, Colonial Surety Company helps personal representatives in every state quickly and affordably obtain their bonds. Uniquely, Colonial offers direct, instant and digital personal representative bonds.
The steps to obtaining a personal representative bond with Colonial are easy: get a quote online, fill out the information, and enter a payment method. Print or e-file the bond from anywhere—even from your phone while in probate court.
Duties of a Personal Representative?
Legal experts explain that once a personal representative is appointed, according to Florida law, “Notice of Administration” must be provided to all interested parties, such as the spouse, beneficiaries and others who may be entailed to assets. Personal representatives are also responsible for: inventorying and establishing the value of all assets; securing and preserving the assets of the decedent until they can be distributed; identifying and notifying creditors who may have reasonable claims for payment from the estate; paying the claims; and, ultimately, distributing the assets following the laws of intestate succession. Conflicts, lawsuits, and payment of outstanding taxes are examples of issues that can delay the probate process—and require further action from the personal representative before the estate can be closed.
Good To Know
The terms administrator, personal representative and executor are frequently interchanged, with preferences determined by state. Colonial Surety helps court-appointed administrators, personal representatives and executors anywhere in the country quickly and affordably secure the specific fiduciary bonds they need. Probate court can be confusing. Colonial is not—we have the expertise to help. Our I-Bond® service makes a wide portfolio of bonds instantly, digitally and directly available to customers. Questions? We’re HERE TO HELP.
Across the country, lawyers find that partnering with Colonial Surety speeds up the process whenever courts require fiduciary bonds or court bonds.
Colonial’s direct, fully digital, user-friendly system reduces the time, hassle and expense typically associated with antiquated bonding processes. For even more value added service, lawyers are invited to sign up for The Partnership Account® for Attorneys—a free business service that enables attorneys to easily coordinate, view, complete and e-file the court and fiduciary bonds clients need. Increase your efficiency—and lower costs for clients. See for yourself today: The Partnership Account® for Attorneys.
Founded in 1930, Colonial Surety Company is a direct writer of a wide range of bonds and insurance products. Colonial is rated “A Excellent” by A.M. Best Company, U.S. Treasury listed, and licensed for business everywhere in the USA.