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Commencing the administration of an estate

Estate planning is a common step residents in Florida will take at some point in their life -- whether they seek to protect existing assets or ensure that their property will pass down to the appropriate beneficiaries. When the time comes to initiate the administration of a will, loved ones might experience some legal issues if the will or other legal documents, such as a trust, were not properly drafted. This is why understanding the estate administration process is crucial because it could avoid pitfalls that could make some or their entire estate plan unenforceable.

In order to commence the administration of an estate, there must be a proof of a will. Self-proved will that have been executed in accordance with Chapter 733 of the Florida Statutes will be admitted to probate without further proof. Otherwise, a will is admitted into probate after an oath has been taken before a judge or a commissioner by the attesting witnesses. Next, a petition for administration must be filed, and any interested party may file this.

Once all the documents of the estate have been validated, a notice of administration must be served to necessary parties and the personal representative. In most cases, this means the decedent's surviving spouse, beneficiaries and trustee of any trust included in the estate and persons who might be entitled to exempt property. Once the notice has been served, an interested party is able to file an objection. This could be done in order to invalidate a will due to reasons such as mistranslation, misinterpretation or the existence of another will.

In addition to serving a notice of administration, a notice to creditors should also be sent if the statute requires it. Otherwise, the personal representative should publish a notice to creditors for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper in the county where the estate is being administered. Once these steps have been completed, the administration of the estate may occur.

While initiating the administration of an estate seems simple and straightforward, issues could present themselves. In order to ensure a will and the entire estate is carried out the way it was intended, individuals should seek guidance in the drafting process. This will ensure that their rights are protected and interests preserved.

Source: Leg.State.fl.us, "Commencing Administration," accessed on Oct. 13, 2014

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