What is Probate Law? A Glimpse Into the World of Probate
What is probate law? This is a question that is often asked by a number of people from all walks of life. As with most things in life, it appears that the majority of people are unaware of probate law unless they become somehow involved in a probate court proceeding or probate administration. Firstly, by asking “What is probate law?” you are on the right track. The word probate is not often used in our everyday language or in the common vernacular. You need someone who will give a breakdown of what probate law consists, and how you fit into the probate puzzle.
The Complexity of Probate Law
Our attorneys and staff at Bret Jones, P.A. understand that probate law may not be at the tip of your tongue when you are searching for advice on how to go forward with probate administration. You may have been assigned as the personal representative of a friend or loved one’s estate. You may not know what that means. In actuality, the majority of people don’t know what the term “personal representative” means. The actual title of “personal representative” varies from state to state, and television and social media may provide you with some varying degrees of probate law knowledge. But all of this is insufficient to provide you with the legal advice that you may need, such as a thorough explanation of “what is probate law?” and much more. Gathering information from various online sources, and tidbits heard here and there are far from the quality legal advice that you may need.
There’s No Harm in Asking Questions
The probate law attorneys and staff at Bret Jones, P.A. breakdown the “legalese” that is commonly associated with the legal field. The better that you can understand what is going on with your situation, we believe the better for everyone involved. There is no reason that an attorney should excuse your questions as small. There is no such thing as a small or dumb question. Attorneys have spent years studying the law, and you may have the majority of your legal references from television, movies, and social media – like the rest of the world. Does this allow for an attorney to laugh or respond condescendingly when you ask “What is probate law?” Certainly not. At Bret Jones, P.A. we understand that everyone is valuable in this world, and each of us have our own specific talents. One sign of intelligence is knowing that is it impossible to know everything, and that the smartest people are not afraid to ask questions- even the questions that may sound “dumb.” Furthermore, there is no such thing as a dumb question.
So, What is Probate Law?
Probate law starts with the process of when a person passes away. When someone passes away, they may have property that needs to be distributed, debts that need to be paid, and other affairs that need to be sorted out. This is where probate law comes into action. Probate deals with the administration of the deceased person’s affairs that need to be addressed. Probate administration can take two roads depending on whether the deceased person, or decedent, has died with a will or “intestate.” If a person has died “intestate” it means that they have died without a will. If a decedent, or deceased person, has a will, then everything will be done in probate court to follow the will. There are varying other factors that are considered and dealt with in probate law such as the validity of a will, dying intestate, distribution of property, satisfaction of any outstanding debts of the decedent, and much more.
Understanding Personal Representatives
A probate law attorney can guide you through the probate law maze, especially if you are a personal representative. A personal representative is either specified in a will or chosen by the judge in probate court if no one has been mentioned in a will. Florida Statute 733.301 “Preference in Appointment of Personal Representative” details the order of preference of personal representatives for both persons who died without a will, (also known as dying “intestate”), or persons who died with a valid will.
The preferential order for a personal representative in a situation with a will is as follows:
- “The personal representative, or his or her successor, nominated by the will or pursuant to a power conferred in the will.”
- “The person selected by a majority in interest of the persons entitled to the estate.”
- “A devisee under the will. If more than one devisee applies, the court may select the one best qualified.”
The preferential order for a personal representative where there is no will, (the decedent has died “intestate”) is as follows:
- “The surviving spouse.”
- “The person selected by a majority in interest of the heirs.”
- “The heir nearest in degree. If more than one applies, the court may select the one best qualified.”
Fitting the Pieces of the Probate Puzzle Together
As you can tell, the Florida Statutes, although comprehensive and specific in nature, require the knowledge and explanation of an attorney. The descriptions used in the statutes are thorough, but require much analytical thinking and legal expertise. By hiring a qualified attorney the question of “What is probate law?” and much more can be explained. That is why you hire an attorney, so an expert in the legal field can answer your questions and help you understand your position in a given legal situation.
At Bret Jones, P.A., we encourage a healthy and robust legal environment, where our attorneys and staff continue to learn and grow. This reflects on the way we treat our clients. We understand that everyone is at a different position in their lives, and we support and respect all walks of life. No one question is considered dumb. “What is probate law?” is the first step to understanding how and where you need to be in a possible probate proceeding. The thirst for knowledge should never be quenched, and at Bret Jones, P.A. we gladly welcome those who thirst.