How to File a Will & Testament in Florida

By Heather Frances J.D.

A will describes how the person writing it -- the testator -- wants his property to be distributed when he dies and nominates an executor, or personal representative, to administer his estate through the probate process. However, the representative cannot administer the testator's estate or properly distribute his assets until the will is filed with the Probate Division of the testator's local Circuit Court.

Filing the Will

Generally, probate is the process where the court appoints a personal representative to administer an estate; that person pays the testator's creditors and distributes his assets to his beneficiaries. If a deceased person has a will, the person holding it must file it with the clerk of the local Circuit Court’s Probate Division no more than 10 days after he finds out about the decedent’s death. This allows the court to use the provisions in the will during the probate process.

Types of Probate

Not every case requires a full, formal probate process, and the court may allow a simpler form of probate if the decedent’s estate qualifies. If the estate has less than $75,000 in assets or the decedent has been dead for more than two years, the court may permit a summary administration, which is quicker and less expensive. If the estate’s assets don’t exceed the costs of the decedent’s final expenses, like funeral expenses, the estate may be processed by filing a petition for disposition of personal property without administration.

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Opening Probate

To initiate the probate case, someone must file a petition asking to be appointed as the estate’s personal representative, and he can file this petition at the same time as he files the will. He must also submit other paperwork, such as certified copies of the death certificate and a filing fee. Then, the court can appoint a personal representative to manage the estate. Typically, the court will appoint the person named in the decedent’s will unless there are objections.

Ancillary Probate

If the decedent owned property in more than one state, his will may be probated in another state. In such cases, the appointed personal representative may petition a Florida court to record the foreign will. The court will decide whether to admit the will into the court records. If accepted, the admission has the same effect as if the will were originally admitted to a Florida court for probate, with respect to the decedent's property within the state.

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Procedures for Probating a Will in Florida


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Florida Probate Court Laws of the Deceased

Generally, probate is the process of gathering a deceased person’s estate, paying his final debts and distributing the remaining assets to beneficiaries. Florida’s circuit courts oversee probate cases in accordance with Florida’s probate laws, found in Chapters 731 through 735 of the Florida statutes. These laws address who can inherit from a decedent, as well as how the inheritances are distributed.

Letters Testamentary Without a Will

Whether a person creates a will or not, her estate must be administered after her death. In either case, the court appoints someone to navigate the estate through probate and gives that person a legal document to prove her status; this document is known as letters testamentary if there is a will, and a letter of administration, if there is not.

Michigan Death Estate Settlement Procedures

When someone dies, her estate must be settled. The settlement process includes following the terms of the will, paying off the deceased's debts and taxes, selling or giving away her property, and dealing with the probate court. In Michigan, the person who oversees estate settlement is known as the personal representative of the deceased; this person is either named in the deceased's will or chosen after her death by the probate court.

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