Probate & Guardianship

Probate is a legal process through which the assets of a deceased person are distributed to the heirs or beneficiaries of the estate. The Court oversees the estate to make sure debts are paid and proper distribution is made.

Probate can be with or without a Will. A Will is a document executed by a person which expresses their wishes as to how property is to be disposed of after their death. The Will usually names a personal representative to administer the estate. In Gilchrist County, after the death of a person, the custodian of the Will must deposit the Will with the Clerk of the Circuit Court within ten (10) days after receiving information that the person is deceased. It is not necessary to have an attorney file the Will with the Clerk’s office, however, you may wish to consult with an attorney before filing the Will so that he or she may determine whether or not probate proceedings should be filed.

Probate proceedings are initiated with the filing of a Petition by the person asking to be appointed as personal representative. The Petition is prepared by an attorney. If there is no Will, the assets in the estate will be distributed as set forth in Florida Statutes. The personal representative will be responsible for the estate until all debts are paid or otherwise disposed and distribution of the assets is made to the beneficiaries. At such time as the Court determines that the estate has been fully administered and all requirements have been met, the personal representative will be discharged.

TYPES OF ESTATES:

Formal Administration: This type of proceeding is used when there are considerable assets (value exceeding $25,000 including real property) and it is necessary to appoint a representative to act on behalf of the estate. The capacity in which the representative will act is determined by the Court at the time of appointment. Letters of administration will be issued to the representative so that he/she may complete the administration of the estate.

Family Administration: Family administration is normally used when the decedent leaves only personal property and the value of this property does not exceed $60,000.00.

Summary Administration: Summary administration may be administered when the value of the entire estate subject to administration does not exceed $25,000.00.

Desposition of Personal Property Without Administration: The disposition is filed to request release of the assets of the deceased to the person who paid the final expenses, such as funeral bills, medical bills for the last 60 days, etc. This procedure may be accomplished with the filing of a formal petition.

Debbie Craft
Probate & Guardianship Clerk
dcraft@gilchrist.fl.us