There are several ways to speed up the administration of a probate estate in Florida. The speed of a Florida probate administration depends on many factors, including the assets of the deceased, the amount of beneficiaries, the personal representative, and whether there is litigation regarding the estate. There are certain things that each party can do to help speed up a Florida probate administration.
Deposit the Original Will With the Florida Probate Court
The person with the decedent’s original will can greatly speed up the Florida probate by depositing the original will with the court once they learn about the decedent’s death. Under Florida law, the custodian of a will must deposit the will with the clerk of the court having venue of the estate of the decedent within 10 days after receiving information that the testator is dead. Fla. Stat. s. 732.901.
Sometimes the opening of the estate is delayed because the decedent’s relatives know that the decedent had a will, but have no idea where it is located. Relatives will sometimes spend weeks or months trying to locate the original will, which delays the opening of a Florida probate.
How Can a Beneficiary Speed Up Probate Administration?
The simplest way for a beneficiary to speed up the probate administration process in Florida is to respond quickly to notices from the court and the personal representative, and (after careful review and consideration) waive certain due process rights and timelines.
For example, when a probate is started in Florida, a beneficiary might receive a form to consent to the appointment of a particular person as the personal representative. Signing the consent form and waiving any objection and associated time period to the appointment of the personal representative can speed up the probate process. If a waiver is not signed, then the parties will have to wait for the formal notice deadline to run for each interested party to make sure no one is going to object, and perhaps set a hearing on the petition. If everyone signs and sends in waivers, the personal representative can be appointed quickly and likely without a hearing.
Another opportunity for a beneficiary to speed up probate administration in Florida comes when an estate is ready to be closed. A beneficiary will often be sent a full waiver which asks them to waive their rights to receive a formal estate accounting. By not requiring the personal representative to formally account to the beneficiaries, time and money is saved, and the probate can be closed out much faster than if an accounting is required. Of course, waiving an accounting is not always appropriate, particularly if there is litigation or discord with the personal representative, but is often done in a straightforward and peaceful probate estate.
How Can a Florida Personal Representative Speed Up Probate?
The Florida personal representative plays a large role in the speed of a probate administration. Some personal representatives (and their Florida probate attorneys) are simply more efficient and better organized than others.
At the beginning of the probate administration, there are several things that a Florida personal representative can do to set the tone for an efficient probate.
First, the personal representative’s speed in marshalling the decedent’s probate assets and determining the beneficiaries and creditors of the estate can determine how quickly the administration of the probate gets off the ground.
Sending out the required notices to all interested parties and creditors of the Florida probate estate immediately after appointment as personal representative starts the mandatory time period for creditor claims. As we have written about before, there are several deadlines and timelines in Florida probate that must be observed and cannot be waived, the creditor claims period being one of them. If the personal representatives gets the notice to creditors out as soon as possible, the clock starts running and helps to speed up the Florida probate administration.
What If There Is Litigation Regarding the Probate Estate?
If someone decides to file a lawsuit regarding the probate estate, whether a will contest, creditor litigation, challenging the personal representative’s administration of the estate, spousal rights litigation, or any other litigation, the speed of the probate administration is brought to a crawl. Once litigation is involved, there is little that a beneficiary or personal representative can do to speed up the Florida probate administration. The litigation will have to be resolved before the probate can be closed.
Can I Receive Some Of My Florida Inheritance Before Probate Is Closed?
Yes. In some cases a personal representative will be in a position to make an interim distribution to beneficiaries. Interim distributions are only made if the personal representative is confident that there are enough assets in the estate to satisfy potential creditor claims and other expenses of the estate.
Some companies also provide beneficiaries of a Florida probate estate an advance on one’s inheritance. For people who need to receive their inheritance immediately, probate advances can offer a solution to speed up the receipt of an inheritance, regardless of the speed of the Florida probate. Read about Whether You Should Obtain a Probate Advance.