The Lengthy Timeline of Florida Probate
By: Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
February 10, 2022
If you are the personal representative or inheritor of an estate, it’s possible you will find yourself in the probate process. Although there is no set timeline that someone can expect, Florida probate is often notoriously lengthy and involves multiple steps and processing times.
It can be helpful to understand all of the different stages of the probate process… and even more helpful to have a seasoned attorney on your side who specializes in probate to guide you through this challenging time. This way, you can minimize the length or complications of the process – or, better yet, avoid it altogether.
Let’s take a look at the specifics of the Florida probate timeline.
How Long Should I Expect Florida Probate to Take?
Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all timeline for probate in Florida. The specifics of probate are always dependent on the unique factors of your case and even the county you have to file in. A simple case with no disputes can mean a shorter and smoother probate process, while other more complex cases can take much longer.
Florida probate often takes at least six months, but usually it’s closer to 12 months, which is one reason why so many people would prefer to avoid it altogether. Sometimes, probate can take a few years! It all depends on your case.
Here are some common timelines for Florida Probate:
- Simple estates can take as little as three months, but often closer to six or more.
- Standard formal administrations take closer to a year or more.
- Complex estates can take two years or more!
Florida Probate Deadlines You Need to Know
Although there is no way to know exactly how long your probate process will take due to processing and wait times, there are still critical filing deadlines you must meet in the state of Florida.
- The original will must be filed 10 days from the decedent’s known death
- Any objection to the validity of a will, personal representative, or jurisdiction must be filed at 20 days, three months, or four years
- A creditor claim must be filed at either 30 days from receiving notice to creditors, or three months from publication of a notice to creditors with a hard dead line of 2 years from date of death
The Florida Probate Process
It’s crucial to meet the probate deadlines above, or your process can be even more drawn out and painful. This is why the best defense against a lengthy and stressful probate process is to hire a knowledgeable probate attorney.
Remember, there is no set length of time for Florida probate. But you can get a sense of how long probate might take for you if you look at the stages of the process below.
- Initial Conference: Gather documents and statements; personal representative and probate attorney have their first meeting.
- Initial Filing for Probate: Documents must be filed with probate court, including the decedent’s Last Will and Testament, which must be filed within 10 days of their known death. Document processing can take 4-6 weeks by the courts.
- Granting Letters of Administration: The court will issue Letters of Administration to the executor of the estate, which can take 1-4 weeks to be received. Then the estate accounts can be opened.
- Sign Inventory: A list of estate assets must be filed with the probate court and beneficiaries should be notified of any non-probate assets they will receive.
- Notify the Creditors: The estate executor must publish a notice to creditors (usually for two weeks) and provide a list of creditors to the probate attorney. Creditors have a 90-day window to file claims from the date of publication.
- Proving Death: The estate executor is responsible for providing proof of the decedent’s death to any creditors within the same 90-day window.
- Verified Statement: Within four months of the notice, a verified statement must be filed with the court, confirming any creditors with a claim against the estate.
- The Validity of a Will: There is no set timeframe for when the probate court must determine the validity of the decedent’s will, but it must be done at one stage of the probate process.
- Objections: After the executor has filed the estate’s assets with the probate court, any objections against the estate’s accounting (from creditors, individual parties, etc.) must be made within 30 days. Objections can slow down the process considerably.
- Distributions of Assets: The executor distributes the estate’s assets to any beneficiaries after unpaid debts and taxes have been settled. The executor must then file receipts to the probate court within one year.
- Closing the Estate: Last, the executor and/or attorney must file a petition to close the estate and then wait for an order of discharge from the court to end the probate process.
As you can see, the Florida probate timeline is a hassle, but for many it is unavoidable. Fortunately, Haimo Law can help walk you through each step quickly and efficiently, saving you time and the estate money. Additionally, if your loved one has just passed, it would be wise to take a look at our Post-Mortem Checklist for some of the most common tasks you will need to complete.
Don’t let Florida probate cause you and your family stress and confusion; call Haimo Law today at 954-228-3369.
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
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