Don’t Be Foolish. Talk to a Probate Attorney First (even if it’s not me)!

florida probate forms - don't do it yourself

This coming October will mark the 5th year that we have been intensely focused on Florida Probate Law.

In these past five years, I have personally handled several hundred (maybe north of 1000) free consultations to people faced with the possibility of probate.

Not everyone hires my firm, but many of them have still seriously been rewarded by talking to an attorney first!

Allow me to explain:

Probate Forms Are Intended for Use By Attorneys Only

No, not so attorneys can stay employed.  There is more to probate in Florida than just filling out forms.  Cynics won’t believe me, but if I kept count of all the non-clients who I saved big $$$$, they might think twice.  In the past, I’ve written about the necessity knowing WHEN TO FILE PROBATE.  Failure to properly time your probate can cost you thousands!

For example, starting a probate within 2 years from the date of death will expose the estate to creditors!  << That’s not always a big deal though.  If you’re just “probating” a homestead to transfer title, creditor issues typically don’t matter.

Probate May Not Even Be Necessary

Who told you that probate is necessary?  If your know-it-all uncle insisted you probate an estate, did you ever ask to see his law license? Sometimes, assets pass outside of probate by “operation of law”.  Does your uncle even know what that means?  Is he uncessarily encouraging you to probate an estate that doesn’t require any action on your part?

There Are Two Major Types of Probate

Opening the wrong type of administration can be costly or complicate matters.  Summary Administration is often enough.  But when is Formal Administration more useful?  Does the bank require “Letters Testamentary”?  Really?  If so, ask the banker if Letters of Administration would be acceptable because “Letters Testamentary” don’t technically exist in Florida Probate.

My regrettably sarcastic undertones ought to tell you that I’ve spent a lot of time correcting assumptions that bankers, uncles and other non-attorneys have erroneously advised.

Probate is NOT Do-It-Yourself

I hate to hear when people try to go it alone, despite the fact that most probate cases (even the small ones) require attorney representation. When they hit a wall or the once-friendly clerk decides to finally stop giving erroneous legal advice, it’s too late and an attorney might not be able to undo the mess.

Talk to a Florida Probate attorney before you wade into the murky waters of probate law.

If you are convinced you can do it yourself, at least entertain me with one consultation.  It could save you (and me) time, money and headaches.

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Recipient: 2013 Client's Choice Award for Probate