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Timelines in Initiating Probate in Florida


Many become familiar with Florida’s probate process by matter of necessity. So often friends and family members who are otherwise inexperienced in complex legal matters suddenly find themselves thrust into limelight and have the ability, and obligation, to bring a loved one’s estate through probate. The probate process generally requires verifying the validity of the deceased person’s last will and testament, if they had one prepared, and carrying out the distribution of estate assets either in accordance with the will, or in accordance with intestate law provisions if no valid will is identified.

It is important to remember key probate deadlines set in place to ensure that the process is completed timely. The settling of one’s estate is a hefty matter. The state treats failings to meet deadlines seriously. Those who mishandle and unreasonably delay distributing estate assets could face legal consequences.

This post aims to help Florida residents understand the road they have in front of them, and to better identify next and immediate steps in their own probate journey.

Statute of Limitations

In legal proceedings people often refer to the legal term “statute of limitations.” What this term refers to is the maximum of time allowed for a party to initiate legal proceedings. This statute of limitations/time limit applies in both civil and criminal cases, and the amount of time allowed varies widely according to the details and nature of the issue.

There is no specific statute of limitations set for the initiation of a Florida probate case. However, there are several items that do require prompt action on the part of the administrator. One such item concerns requirements for producing a purported last will and testament.

Production of Wills: Florida Statute 732.901

Florida Statute 732.901 requires that the custodian of a last will and testament must deposit the purported will with the court clerk of the correct jurisdiction within ten days of receiving information that the testator of the will has passed away.

The law goes on to state that all costs, damages, and reasonable attorneys fees may also be levied against a delinquent custodian if the court finds that the custodian unreasonably failed to properly deposit the will in accordance with the above.

It is important to note that the depositing of the will does not initiate the probate process. It will, however, often motivate the beneficiaries named in the will to begin pursuing the process.

Timely processing the estate in accordance with the law is important because as time passes it just becomes more difficult to find and adequately notify the heirs of the estate. This leads to numerous delays down the line in probate. The Florida laws all exist in order to streamline and enable a more swift resolution than is likely to occur should estates sit for years before being processed.

Contact Suncoast Civil Law

An experienced attorney can help you navigate through every twist and nuance of the Florida probate process. Though notoriously complex, our team of esteemed Sarasota probate litigation attorneys at Suncoast Civil Law is standing by to offer you tailored advice and help you come to the best possible resolution in your case.