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Probate FAQs

Geller Law and Mediation > Probate FAQs

WHY DO I NEED TO DESIGNATE A GUARDIAN?

If you do not designate a guardian for your minor child, the court will do it for you. When you designate a guardian in your will, however, you make all the decisions. That means you can decide which of the people in your life has a lifestyle and values similar to your own. When the court decides, your preferences are usually not taken into account.


CAN YOU DEFINE PROBATE?

Simply put, probate is the court-supervised administration of an estate. Defined specifically in state law, the probate process transfers the assets from the estate of a deceased person to his or her beneficiaries. The probate process also makes sure that taxes and expenses as well as any outstanding creditors are paid before the estate goes to beneficiaries.


WHAT IS A GUARDIANSHIP?

When a person becomes incapacitated, the Florida circuit courts appoint a guardian to exercise the legal rights of the incapacitated person.


WHAT HAPPENS IF I DIE WITHOUT HAVING WRITTEN A WILL ?

State law determines who gets your assets if you die without a will. The formulas set forth in statute are rigid, however, and do not make exceptions based on need or circumstances. The court also appoints someone to manage the estate, perhaps someone you never knew. In addition, the cost of probate can be much greater than if you had planned for the distribution of your assets with a will.


IS EVERYTHING I OWN SUBJECT TO PROBATE WHEN I DIE?

No. Only assets owned by you in your individual name are subject to probate. Assets you own with a spouse or another person pass to the surviving owner without probate. This includes life insurance policies with a designated beneficiary as well as retirement accounts, bank accounts, annuities and other assets with “in trust for” or “pay on death” clauses.

Please contact our office to schedule an appointment to answer any of your other questions regarding Probate or Guardianship matters.