Frequently asked questions:

If you have questions regarding a trust or if you are trying to deal with the Florida probate process, visit this page of our website to find the answers to frequently asked questions.  Contact a Fort Myers probate lawyer today at the Linde Law Group to get your questions answered.

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  • Who supervises the administration of probate in Cape Coral or Fort Myers?

    The administration of probate in Florida is generally supervised by a circuit court judge in the probate division of the county where the deceased person died. If you are worried about how your estate will be carried out, you should discuss your concerns now with an estate attorney in Fort Myers, Florida. With the guidance of an experienced attorney, you may be able to help your beneficiaries avoid mass confusion upon your death. 

    The judge who will supervise the administration of probate in Florida will rule on whether your will is valid or, if you died without a will (intestate), whether there is sufficient evidence to confirm that those claiming to be your heirs are truly your heirs and entitled to your probate estate.

    If the deceased nominated a personal representative in their will, the judge will decide whether that individual or institution is, in fact, qualified for the task at hand. If the nominee for personal representative meets all qualifications according to Florida law, then the judge will issue Letters of Administration. They are evidence that the personal representative has the authority to administer the deceased's probate estate.

    In the event that disputes or questions arise concerning the administration of the estate, a hearing will likely be held by the judge to seek a resolution. The decision made by the judge will be presented in a written direction, which is an order.

    The sooner you meet with an estate attorney in Fort Myers, Florida, the sooner you can have the peace of mind that your probate estate will be handled properly.

    Help from an Attorney in Fort Myers, Florida, is Just a Phone Call Away

    Fort Myers estate attorney Matthew A. Linde understands firsthand the importance of careful estate planning and the complexities of financial legal matters, such as probate, tax litigation and guardianship. For help with probate in Florida, contact our Fort Myers office to schedule a one-on-one meeting with a professional who can answer your questions – 239-939-7100 or 844-357-0572.

  • Why does a personal representative in a Florida probate case need an attorney?

    If you have been appointed the personal representative of a Florida probate, you will need an attorney for several reasons. To protect yourself, you should schedule a consultation with an experienced probate attorney who will help you understand the probate process and any laws that apply to your case.  Further, if you are not the only beneficary then being represented by an attorney is required by law under Florida Probate Rule 5.030(a) for personal representatives and guardians.

    If you don't handle probate cases on a day-to-day basis, you may run into some complexities that you may not be prepared to deal with. When you have good legal counsel by your side, you can have peace of mind that you will be provided guidance to carry out your responsibilities accurately.  In nearly all Florida probate cases, it's crucial that the personal representative have legal representation. Even in the simplest probate case, legal issues are likely to arise. As a personal representative, you can count on your attorney to advise you on your rights and duties according to Florida law and to represent you in all estate proceedings. 

    You should also know that your attorney will represent only you, not the beneficiaries. Furthermore, be advised that if there is a provision in the last will and testament that mandates a certain law firm or attorney be hired as your attorney, it will not be binding on you as the personal representative.

    You will have many responsibilities as a personal representative. That last thing you want to do is make a serious error that could affect any heirs or beneficiaries.  Your best bet is to seek the services of Fort Myers probate attorney for guidance.

    When You Need Help with a Florida Probate Case

    Florida Bar Board certified wills, trusts and estates attorney expert Matthew A. Linde understands firsthand the importance of careful estate planning and the complexities of financial legal matters, such as probate, tax litigation and guardianship. For help with your probate concerns, contact our Fort Myers office to schedule a one-on-one meeting with a professional who can answer your questions – 1-239-939-7100 or 1-844-357-0572.

  • In regards to a Florida probate case, who can be a personal representative?

    There are several entities and individuals who could be named a personal representative in a Florida probate case. If you have been named a representative or if you need help determining who your personal representative should be, you should meet with a probate lawyer in Fort Myers.

    Naming a personal representative is not something that should be taken lightly. You want a person or entity you can trust to handle your affairs appropriately. On the other hand, if you have been named a representative, you will need to focus on administering the estate according to Florida law.

    Who can be a personal representative?

    A personal representative in a Florida probate case could be designated to any of the following: 

    • an individual, trust company or bank, but certain restrictions will apply;
    • an individual who resides in Florida or is a close relative, such as a spouse, parent, sibling or child; or
    • a trust company that is incorporated under Florida laws, or a savings
      and loan that is qualified and authorized to carry out fiduciary powers in the state. 

    The personal representative will be tasked with many responsibilities upon the decedent's death, and therefore should speak with a lawyer who is familiar with these types of legal matters.

    A probate lawyer can discuss any concerns you may have, such as liability issues, which could arise in just about any probate case. You will need an attorney who has vast experience handling probate and estate planning in the state of Florida. 

    Help from a Probate Lawyer in Fort Myers is Just a Phone Call Away

    Fort Myers estate planning attorney Matthew A. Linde understands firsthand the importance of careful estate planning and the complexities of financial legal matters, such as probate, tax litigation and guardianship. For help with your probate concerns, contact our Fort Myers office to schedule a one-on-one meeting with a professional who can answer your questions – 1-239-939-7100 or 1-844-357-0572.

  • My dad just died in Naples, when a summary proceeding not a good probate option?

    There are several instances in which summary administration, which is a faster and less costly form of probate administration, may not be preferable in a Florida probate case. To find out whether summary administration would be a good fit for your case, you should speak with Fort Myers probate lawyers.

    When Summary Administration Would Not Be Practical

    Even though summary administration may be an option in your Florida probate case, it may not be practical under the following circumstances:

    • If the will leaves the property to many beneficiaries, each would have to sign the contract to sell, the closing documents and the deed.
    • If there are minor beneficiaries, guardianships will probably need to be set up, and someone will have to maintain them until the minors become adults. However, with a formal estate, this may be avoidable if the personal representative takes advantage of the Florida Uniform Transfers to Minors Act.
    • If a beneficiary's whereabouts are unknown, summary administration would not be able to accommodate a missing heir as formal probate administration could.
    • If a beneficiary refuses to cooperate with other owners, the solution may be formal administration, which could be necessary to sell the property. An alternative is a costly "partition" lawsuit.

    After the second anniversary of the decedent's death, if formal administration is necessary, the requirements related to creditors will have changed, but costs and fees shouldn't be much more than those for summary administration. It's best that you meet with a lawyer before you make any decisions about summary administration.

    Help from Fort Myers Probate Lawyers is Just a Phone Call Away

    Florida Bar Board certified wills, trusts and estates expert Matthew A. Linde understands firsthand the importance of careful estate planning and the complexities of financial legal matters, such as probate, tax litigation and guardianship. For help with your probate concerns, contact our Fort Myers office to schedule a one-on-one meeting with a professional who can answer your questions – 1-239-939-7100 or 1-844-357-0572.

  • What are the types of probate in Florida?

    The 2 different types of probate in Florida are Formal Administration and Summary Administration. To discuss the pros and cons of each, you should schedule a consultation with Florida Bar Board Certified wills, trusts and estates expert Matthew A. Linde.

    Formal Administration vs. Summary Administration

    The differences in Formal Administration and Summary Administration are:

    • Formal Administration: This is the long version of probate in Florida in which Letters of Administration are generally administered, which can take up to a year or longer.
    • Summary Administration: This is a short version of probate in which Letters of Administration are not necessary. Eligibility requirements include non-exempt assets valued at $75,000 or less or when the deceased died more than 2 years ago. 

    If you have been named a personal representative in a will, you generally will not be able to take significant action unless you have a court order. However, this is no reason to assume that you must have Letters of Administration to perform your duties as personal representative. 

    Your best bet is to meet with an expert in wills, trusts and estates to discuss your options. While Summary Administration is less costly and quicker than Formal Administration, you may not meet the requirements. For example, if you need authority to collect estate assets you will need Letters of Administration and consequently, a formal administration. Your attorney will be able to review your case and help you decide on the best course of action.

    Help from Estate Planning Attorneys in Fort Myers is Just a Phone Call Away

    Fort Myers estate planning attorney Matthew A. Linde understands firsthand the importance of careful estate planning and the complexities of financial legal matters, such as probate, tax litigation and guardianship. For help with your probate concerns, contact our Fort Myers office to schedule a one-on-one meeting with a professional who can answer your questions – 1-239-939-7100 or 1-844-357-0572.

  • My dad just died, why hire a Florida probate lawyer?

    There are various reason why you may need to hire a Florida probate lawyer. For instance, if your loved one died without a will, Florida statutes will determine how assets will be distributed. To protect your rights throughout the probate process, which can last months or years, you should hire Florida Bar Board Certified wills, trusts and estates expert Matthew A. Linde. 

    When you are in the midst of probate, your stress level will likely be increased due to the fact that you just lost a loved one. If you don't handle probate cases on a daily basis, you may find the process of settling an estate too complex and frustrating.

    How a Florida Probate Lawyer Can Help

    An experienced lawyer can minimize the frustration by answering your probate questions, helping you understand the process and providing guidance.

    In cases in which there is a will and an executor has been named to settle the estate, a lawyer can help protect the executor from financial or legal liability in the event that mistakes are made. Otherwise, the executor could face severe repercussions. 

    It's best to hire a lawyer early, especially if the decedent died without a will or if you are the executor of an estate. A do-it-yourself-kit is a bad idea when it comes to settling an estate because of the potential for legal, financial and emotional problems.

    Before you hire a lawyer it would be a good idea to write down all of your probate questions and ask them during your consultation. If you are comfortable with your Florida probate lawyer's answers, he or she may be a good fit your case.

    Help from a Florida Probate Lawyer is Just a Phone Call Away

    Florida probate lawyer Matthew A. Linde understands firsthand the importance of careful estate planning and the complexities of financial legal matters, such as probate, tax litigation and guardianship. For help with your probate concerns, contact our Fort Myers office to schedule a one-on-one meeting with a professional who can answer your questions – 239-939-7100 or 844-357-0572.

  • If my spouse died with debt, but I did not incur the debt am I liable in probate?

    No.  That is no no no.  There is an article in the Wall Street Journal that discusses this problem and has an example from a grieving spouse in Cape Coral, Florida.  It is a good article and you should read it.  The link is here:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204224604577030043890121710.html?mod=WSJ_hp_LEFTTopStories
     

    There is a growing problem that I want you, the spouse of a loved one who has died, to understand.  If your husband or wife dies, and you did not incur the obligation (example below) then on the death of your husband or wife, their debt dies with them.  You are not personally obligated to pay the debt – period.  The Wall Street Journal points out a growing problem that is caused by aggressive creditors. 


    The creditors will (1) try to trick you into believing that you owe the money, (2) try to guilt you into believing that you owe the money, (3) try to harass you into paying the money.
     

    What does it mean to incur the obligation?  For example, your husband signed a contract with a credit card company, but you did not sign anything.  Now your husband dies and he owed $15,000.00 on the credit card.  You are not responsible for that money.  A ruthless creditor may try to talk you into making payments or signing something making you legally obligated to pay the debt.  Do not do it.  For more information contact Florida Bar Board Certified wills, trusts and estates expert Linde Law Group today!

  • I have children and all of my assets are in my spouse's name as well as mine. Should I still work with an estate planning attorney in Fort Myers to draw up a will?

    Yes, you should work with an estate planning attorney in Fort Myers to draw up a Florida will if you have children and your assets are in your name and your spouse's name. An attorney can help you take the necessary steps to protect your children, which is one of the primary reasons to create a will.

    Since you lack assets that are held in your name only, you probably think there's no need for a will to transfer ownership to your children. However, a Florida will can still be a critical tool for your estate planning if your children are minors.

    Why It's Still Important that You Have a Florida Will

    When you have a properly drafted will, you have the opportunity to name a guardian for your minor children who may survive your spouse and yourself

    If you miss out on this opportunity, it will be up to a judge to appoint a guardian upon your demise.  Keep in mind that a stranger who doesn't know your family's needs could be tasked with appointing someone to take on such an important role.

    You can void this by consulting with an estate planning attorney in Fort Myers. An attorney can help you prepare a will that will carry out your wishes and keep your children's best interests in mind.

    If you try to prepare a will on your own, you may run into some difficulties, especially since you are also trying to plan for your children. You'll have better success when you seek help from a proven estate planning attorney.

    Help from an Estate Planning Attorney in Fort Myers is a Phone Call Away

    Fort Myers estate planning attorney Matthew A. Linde understands firsthand the importance of careful estate planning and the complexities of financial legal matters, such as probate, tax litigation and guardianship. For help with your estate planning concerns, like advance directives, contact our Fort Myers office to schedule a one-on-one meeting with a professional who can answer your questions - 239-939-7100 or 844-357-0572.

  • What is a trust and why might I need to have a Fort Myers estate planning attorney help me to draw one up?

    A trust, which is a legal document, is an agreement that's typically forged among 3 people regarding one set of assets. To ensure that your Florida trust is legally binding, it should be drafted with the guidance of a Fort Myers estate planning attorney.

    Overview of a Florida Trust

    The 3 people involved in a trust are: 

    • the settlor creates the arrangement and names a trustee;
    • the trustee, who holds the legal title to the assets for the benefit of the beneficiary; and
    • the beneficiary, the person for whose benefit the trust is created.  The beneficiary can be the settlor and trustee but if that is true then the settlor/trustee cannot be the only beneficiary.  
    • The trust does not have to be written, but good luck proving a trust if you have nothing in writing, and the testamentary aspects of the trust must be executed with the same formalities of a deed in Florida. 

    Naturally, there are legal limitations on a trust; however, it's possible that 1 person can be both the beneficiary and the settlor. It's also possible that the settlor can serve as trustee. There have also been instances in which settlors have had an entity such as a bank named as the trustee.

    The Benefits of a Florida Trust

    Trusts may offer numerous benefits economically:

    • probate avoidance;
    • privatizing family finances and assets;
    • creditor protection for beneficiaries;
    • avoiding guardianships;
    • having control of the management and distribution of assets while you are alive and after you die; and
    • avoidance or reduction of the death tax with additional planning.

    Larger estates typically benefit more from a trust than smaller estates. To find out if you are a candidate for a trust, you should schedule a consultation with a Fort Myers estate planning attorney, who can review your assets and help you make the best decisions to protect yourself and your family.

    Help from a Fort Myers Estate Planning Attorney is a Phone Call Away

    Fort Myers estate planning attorney Matthew A. Linde understands firsthand the importance of careful estate planning and the complexities of financial legal matters, such as probate, tax litigation and guardianship. For help with your Florida trust, contact our Fort Myers office to schedule a one-on-one meeting with a professional who can answer your questions - 239-939-7100 or 844-357-0572.

  • What is an advance directive ?

    A Florida advance directive is a document that allows you to make it clear whether you would want life-prolonging measures taken if you have an end-stage condition or are at a point in which you are being kept alive through artificial means. You can benefit by having a Florida Bar Board Certifed wills, trusts and estates expert help you properly draft an advance directive.

    Understanding a Florida Advance Directive

    Advance directives, which focus on your right to die with dignity, are not just for the elderly. For example, if you were the victim of a serious accident, would you want to be kept alive with a ventilator and feeding tubes if there was no hope for recovery? If your answer is no, you need an advance directive. Most people feel strongly one way or the other about extended life through artificial means.

    When your advance directive meets all legal requirements, it will:

    • allow you to predetermine medical treatment; and
    • allow you to authorize someone to make medical decisions on your behalf; and
    • ensure that CPR will not be performed if you have a terminal condition, as long as your medical team has a copy of the advance directive.

    Copies of your advance directive should be given to as many people as possible, including your family members, neighbors, doctor, and clergy. When your advance directive is properly drafted by a Fort Myers estate planning attorney, it may be transferrable to other states. A legally binding Florida advance directive will provide peace of mind that you will always have control over your medical decisions.

    Help from a Fort Myers Estate Planning Attorney is a Phone Call Away

    Florida Bar Board Certifed wills, trusts and estates expert Matthew A. Linde understands firsthand the importance of careful estate planning and the complexities of financial legal matters, such as probate, tax litigation and guardianship. For help with your Florida advance directive, contact our Fort Myers office to schedule a one-on-one meeting with a professional who can answer your questions - 239-939-7100 or 844-357-0572.