Palm Harbor Probate Lawyer

Sherri M. Stinson, P.A. helps Palm Harbor residents navigate through the challenging probate process.

Palm Harbor Probate

When you pass away, most of your assets that aren’t in a trust will have to go through probate. First, the court will validate your will, if applicable. Then, your personal representative will inventory the estate, settle debts, pay taxes, and distribute the property. With a will in place, the representative will distribute it based on your wishes. However, if you don’t have a will, the court will distribute it based on the Florida Intestacy Statute.

Probate can be a long, complicated, and expensive process that’s made even worse if you don’t have an estate plan. A Palm Harbor probate lawyer can help you create an estate plan to avoid or minimize the impact of probate. The attorney can also help you if you are currently going through probate and need legal guidance or protection. 

Non-probate Assets

Not all assets are subject to probate in Florida. Non-probate assets include:

  • Property held in a trust
  • Joint tenancy property
  • Payable on death and transfer on death assets
  • Life insurance payouts
  • Retirement accounts that designate a beneficiary

Your Palm Harbor probate lawyer can go over your estate and explain what will and won’t have to pass through probate court.

Types of Probate in Florida

There are three types of probate in Florida. First, there is formal administration. Most estates go through the formal administration process. A personal representative is appointed to inventory assets, pay creditors, and distribute the property. Many people get a Palm Harbor probate lawyer to help with this.

A summary administration is the second option. Also referred to as simplified probate, this is available for estates valued at up to $75,000. Also, if the decedent passed away two or more years ago, the estate can go through the summary administration process. A summary administration is much easier to navigate, and the beneficiaries receive the assets faster. 

Finally, some estates go through ancillary probate administration. This occurs when a resident of another state who owns property in Florida passes away. Ancillary probate occurs at the same time as primary probate in the decedent’s state of residence. 

Probate Disputes

Legal challenges aren’t common but can occur during probate. For instance, someone might choose to contest a will. The law allows any “interested person” to contest wills. Once legal standing has been established, the person must choose the grounds for the lawsuit. Grounds include undue influence, irregularities in the execution of the document, and lack of capacity.

Creditors can also file claims against the estate during probate. The personal representative must pay all debts during probate. Creditors can file claims against the estate to get the money. However, beneficiaries also have the legal right to ask for proof of the debt. This can become complicated, so it’s wise to contact a Palm Harbor probate attorney before defending an estate against creditor claims.

Estate planning

Estate planning might be a frightening prospect. There are many reasons people don’t want to think about it, such as acknowledging your mortality or dealing with difficult family situations. However, the prospect of passing away without estate planning documents in place is even more terrifying.



When the decedent’s final expenses are higher than the value of the estate, you can go through a process called disposition without administration. Your Palm Harbor probate attorney will file the necessary paperwork to release the assets to the person or people who paid the final expenses. If you are unsure if an estate qualifies for disposition without administration, speak to an attorney. 


The duration of probate depends on different factors, including the type of proceedings. Formal probate generally lasts for six to nine months, although it can be longer if there are any disputes. Summary probate is much faster and can be completed in two to three weeks. Many people hire a Palm Harbor probate lawyer to ensure the process goes smoothly. This expedites probate, so beneficiaries can receive the assets faster.

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