Florida Probate Forms – Where can I find them?

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You probably can’t find them.

They are for attorney-use only because most probate cases in Florida require representation by an attorney (yep, even for the “simple” cases)

Even if you can, you are taking a huge risk.

Why? In all but very small situtations, a personal representative (executor) must be represented by an ATTORNEY. (Not a Paralegal)

I haven’t researched it recently, but the probable reason is that the probate system is vulnerable to fraud by claimants, heirs, personal representatives and petitioners. I suppose the legislature decided the potential fraud outweighs the inconvenience of requiring attorney representation.

Even if you do find forms, it isn’t simply a matter of filling them out, checking boxes and signing paperwork. They have to be prepared in a certain manner, with proper clause inclusions and omissions contingent upon supporting documentation.

For example:

Is the Will self-proved? Was a domiciliary proceeding filed in any other state? A host of other questions can change the way those “forms” should be prepared and the kind of supporting documentation that must be submitted.

Yes, the clerk may accept the forms you submit, but in 100% of the cases I’ve taken where the client tried to do it themselves, something went wrong.

Even worse, you may make it even harder for the attorney to fix your mess.

Mistakes can be expen$ive: once you submit a Petition, it becomes a part of the record and having an attorney back you out of the mess can cost more than if you had started with representation.

There is one isolated proceeding, “Disposition of Personal Property without Administration” that doesn’t require an attorney, but because the asset thresholds are so strict, most clients will require Summary or Formal Probate Administration.

You certainly don’t have to retain us, but you should retain someone!

Forget the search for forms.

If you want to talk about the ins and outs of your probate case, call me.

5 Responses to Florida Probate Forms – Where can I find them?
  1. jane doe
    June 25, 2008 | 12:55 am

    when a decedent proclaims one a benefactor in writing or oral recording but while inebriated, does it stand in court should it come to that?
    jane doe

  2. Long H. Duong, Esq.
    August 20, 2008 | 11:58 pm

    Dear “Jane”:

    That’s touchy. First of all, was a Will actually drawn up? It doesn’t have to have fancy legal language, but it must follow certain guidelines according to Florida Probate Law under the Florida Statutes.

    Secondly, was the decedent inebriated to the point that he or she was not mentally competent to sign such a document? Even a moment of clarity is arguably enough to execute a Will.

    Finally, oral Wills don’t hold water in Florida. They just don’t.

    Feel free to contact me privately at http://WeProbateFlorida.com/contact-us

  3. john m.
    September 29, 2008 | 12:31 pm

    (john m’s last name has been edited to maintain privacy)

    My mother and brother have a joint account
    with $100,000. If my mother dies can my brother access this account without going through probate?

  4. Long H. Duong, Esq.
    October 1, 2008 | 1:37 am

    @john mallard:

    Depends on how the “joint account” is actually owned.  Most banks give the option to own it as “joint tenants with right of survivorship” or JTWROS.  Also, when a person opens an account they are typically asked if they would like to designate a “payable on death” beneficiary.  If the account is held in either of these manners, then your brother would probably become the owner of the account by “operation of law” – automatically.

    On the other hand, if none of those designations is predetermined, when your mother passes, her estate technically owns half of the account.  Problem is, if there is fraud to be had, your brother could technically liquidate the account since it appears he has all the authorization he needs – especially if the bank doesn’t know that your mother has passed.

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