Proper Execution of a Will and What Happens When a Will Is Lost?

Estate Planning will signing listA will cannot dispose of any of the decedent’s property until it is admitted to probate. In order for a will to be admitted to probate, it must be executed in accordance with the formalities required by Florida law. The testator must sign his will at the end in the presence of two attesting witnesses. The attesting witnesses must sign in the presence of each other and in the presence of the testator. If the testator attaches a self-proof of will, the will may be admitted to probate without further proof. Without a self-proof of will, an oath of one of the attesting witnesses may be required before the will is admitted to probate.

What Happens When a Will Is Lost? Upon the testator’s death, if a will, executed by the testator and kept in his possession, cannot be found, there is a presumption, absent other evidence, that he destroyed it with the intention of revoking it. However, this presumption may be overcome and the will may be admitted to probate if an interested person is able to establish the full and precise terms of the lost or destroyed will. The content of the lost or destroyed will may be proven with a correct copy of the will and the testimony of one disinterested witness. Without a correct copy, the content may be established through the testimony of two disinterested witnesses.

Related video: Estate Planning documents you must have…

Baskin Fleece handles all aspects of estate planning, probate administration, and litigation. To schedule an appointment with a BaskinFleece attorney, call (727) 572-4545. For more information about BaskinFleece, please visit www.BaskinFleece.com.

4 Ways Probate Can Help You

Probate administration laws1. Court Oversight of Personal Representative. Probate is a Court supervised process. The actions of the Personal Representative are reviewed by the Court. The Personal Representative has a duty to act in the best interest of your estate and is accountable to the Court for its actions.

2. Reduced Time for Creditors to File Claims. Under Florida statutes, during probate administration, a creditor is limited to a 3-month time period to file a claim with the Court. If the creditor fails to timely file a claim, then the creditor’s claim is forever barred. For comparison, if there is only a trust administration, a creditor has 2 years to file a claim.

3. Orderly distribution of assets pursuant to terms of Last Will and Testament, or laws of intestacy, if there is no Last Will and Testament. After payment of all claims and expenses of the Estate, the Personal Representative, (we recommend with the help of an attorney), prepares an accounting and plan of distribution which is provided to all beneficiaries. Each beneficiary has the right to object the accounting and plan of distribution. Once the accounting and plan of distribution is approved by all beneficiaries (or the time for objecting has expired), the Personal Representative distributes the remaining assets pursuant to the terms of the Last Will and Testament (or laws of intestacy if there was no Last Will and Testament). Prior to discharging the Personal Representative, the Court ensures all beneficiaries have signed a receipt for distribution.

4. Your Estate, while in probate, is a separate tax entity, which may afford income tax savings. Several of the expenses incurred during the probate process, including funeral and internment arrangements, probate administration expenses, personal representative fees, attorney fees, and CPA fees may be deductible against the income generated by the Estate assets.

Attorney Colleen Carson

Many of the tasks and duties listed above can be overwhelming for a Personal Representative. A qualified attorney can help make that process smoother and less daunting for you. If you need an experienced attorney in trust and probate matters, consider contacting BaskinFleece at 727.572.4545.

How Is a Personal Representative Compensated?

Randall D. Baskin

Attorney Randall D. Baskin

Pursuant to Florida Statute § 733.617, a personal representative is entitled to a commission payable from the estate assets, without order of the Court, as compensation for ordinary services. The commission shall be based on the compensable value of the estate, which is the inventory value of the probate assets and the income earned by the estate during administration. A commission computed on the compensable value of the estate is presumed to be reasonable compensation for a personal representative in formal administration as follows:

1) At a rate of 3 percent for the first $1 million;

2) At a rate of 2.5 percent for all above $1 million and not exceeding $5 million;

3) At the rate of 2 percent for all above $5 million and not exceeding $10 million;

4) At the rate of 1.5 percent for all above $10 million.

Tampa lawyersIn addition to the previously described commission, a personal representative shall be allowed further compensation as is reasonable for any extraordinary services performed.

For additional information, please contact BaskinFleece at 727.572.4545

This blog is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Because the law is continually changing, some provisions in this blog may be out of date. It is always best to consult an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities in your particular case.

What Does a Personal Representative Do?

Personal Representative

A personal representative is a fiduciary appointed by the judge to be in charge of the administration of a decedent’s estate. In Florida, the term “personal representative” is used instead of such terms as executor, executrix, administrator and administratrix. A personal representative is under a duty to settle and distribute the estate of the decedent in accordance with the terms of the decedent’s will, if any, and the Florida Probate Code, as expeditiously and efficiently as is consistent with the best interests of the estate.

More specifically, a personal representative must:

  • Identify, gather, value and safeguard the decedent’s probate assets;
  • Publish a “Notice to Creditors” in a local newspaper in order to give notice to potential claimants to file any claims against the estate in the manner required by law;
  • Serve a “Notice of Administration” to provide information about the probate estate administration and notice of the procedures required to be followed by those having any objection to the administration of the decedent’s probate estate;
  • Conduct a diligent search to locate “known or reasonably ascertainable” creditors, and notify these creditors of the time by which their claims must be filed;
  • Object to improper claims, and defend suits brought on such claims;
  • Pay valid claims;
  • File tax returns and pay any taxes properly due;
  • Employ professionals to assist in the administration of the probate estate, for example, attorneys, certified public accountants, appraisers and investment advisers;
  • Pay expenses of administering the probate estate;
  • Pay statutory amounts to the decedent’s surviving spouse or family;
  • Distribute probate assets to beneficiaries;
  • Close the probate estate.
Randall D. Baskin

Attorney Randall D. Baskin

A personal representative is authorized to hire an attorney to assist with the administration of the estate and is not required to use their own funds for any costs associated the administration of the decedent’s estate.

For additional information, please contact BaskinFleece at 727.572.4545.

 

This blog is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship. Because the law is continually changing, some provisions in this blog may be out of date. It is always best to consult an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities in your particular case.

What is a personal representative’s compensation?

money and compensation

The personal representative, the attorney, and other professionals whose services may be required in administering the probate estate (such as appraisers and accountants), are entitled by law to reasonable compensation.

Estate expenses: The personal representative’s compensation is usually determined in one of these five ways:

personal representative1. As set forth in the will; 

2. As set forth in a contract between the personal representative and the decedent;

3. As agreed among the personal representative and the persons who will bear the impact of the personal representative’s compensation;

4. The amount presumed to be reasonable as calculated under Florida law, if the amount is not objected to by any of the beneficiaries; or 

5. As determined by the judge.

personal representative feeThe fee for the attorney for the personal representative is usually determined in one of three ways: 1. As agreed among the attorney, the personal representative, and the persons who bear the impact of the fee; 2. The amount presumed to be reasonable calculated under Florida law, if the amount is not objected to by any of the beneficiaries; or 3. As determined by the judge.

For help with a will, estate planning and personal representative related questions, you can contact BaskinFleece at 727.572.4545.

Some of the content of this information is courtesy of The Florida Bar and represents general legal advice. Because the law is continually changing, some provisions in this blog may be out of date. It is always best to consult an attorney about your legal rights and responsibilities in your particular case.

Digital Assets Part 5: Estates – What happens to your Facebook account when you die?

FacebookFacebook is a pioneer in the digital asset arena with online tools that allows users to determine what happens to an account when someone dies. When Facebook is notified that someone has passed, the page is either “memorialized” or “deleted.” What happens to a Facebook account when someone passes? Learn in this short 5 minute video. When Facebook is notified that someone has passed, the page is either “memorialized” or “deleted.” Find out how those choices are made and by whom.

For additional information please contact BaskinFleece at 727.572.4545.

 

Digital Assets Part 4: Estates – Emails, PayPal and online shopping accounts

Digital Assets and their unexpected consequences. 

Gmail and email accounts1. Can a Personal Representative get access to the personal emails of a decedent?  Can a Surviving Spouse get access to the personal emails of their deceased spouse?  Can an Agent under a Durable Power of Attorney get access to the personal emails of the principal?

PayPal logo2. Who can get access to online financial accounts, such as PayPal, of a decedent? Who can get access to online financial accounts, such as PayPal, of a person who is living but incapacitated?

accounts online3. Who can gain access to online shopping accounts, such as Amazon or Etsy, of a decedent?  Who can gain access to online shopping accounts, such as Amazon or Etsy, of a person who is living but incapacitated?

 

For the answers to these questions and other estate planning issues you might have, please contact BaskinFleece Attorney Colleen Carson at 727.572.4545.