Compassionate Guidance Through The Probate Process

The days and months following the death of a loved one can be a particularly hard time for a family. The legal process of administering the estate of the deceased can seem like an intrusion into a time of mourning. At Fuller & Associates, Attorneys at Law, we aim to remove that feeling by offering compassionate counsel and guidance through the probate process. Our office on the water in Orange Park, Florida, offers a tranquil, comforting setting in which to discuss your questions about what happens next.

What Exactly Is Probate?

Simply put, probate is the legal system whereby your debts are paid off and assets you own in your own name alone are distributed to your heirs and other beneficiaries. A personal representative whom you designate in your will guides your estate through the probate process by:

  • Reviewing all assets and outstanding debts within the estate
  • Notifying creditors
  • Paying final taxes and debts
  • Transferring assets to surviving a surviving spouse, children, charities or organization, and other beneficiaries
  • Reporting all of these activities to the court

This is one good reason to draft a will, so you can ensure your affairs are settled by someone you trust to act as you would have done. Without a will, the court will divide up your estate according to state law, which may or may not align with your wishes.

Assistance With Pre-Planning And The Administration Of An Estate

As with anything of this magnitude and complexity, having an experienced estate lawyer help you is only beneficial. Our firm can help you anticipate how best to arrange your estate with regard to probate or the avoidance of probate, if that is something you value. We also assist personal representatives with the administration of estates, guiding them through each of the steps so that no important deadlines or documents are missed.

Why Would I Want To Avoid Probate?

Probate is not necessarily something everyone needs to avoid. In fact, for some estates, the probate process is the most efficient and cost-effective way to administer the estate, if managed properly. Nevertheless, individuals may wish to avoid probate because of the length of time required by the process (from approximately 3 months to several years), the expense of probate (up to 6 percent or more of the value of your estate), and the stress of the court proceedings at a time when stress should be avoided if at all possible.

Means of avoiding probate essentially revolve around holding your assets in such a manner as to pass automatically by operation of law to whomever you want to have the asset. This may be done by holding assets by right of survivorship, by designating beneficiaries of assets, or other manners of holding assets which automatically transfer to another upon death. Included in probate avoidance is the possibility of creating a living or "inter vivos" trust, the purpose of which is to protect you as well as avoid probated expenses.

We know that every family's circumstances are unique, their wishes different. When you work with Fuller & Associates, we make a point of understanding not just your needs, but also the goals for your estate. We then craft a plan that meets them.

We Are Ready To Help

To learn more about probate and how we can help you, we schedule an appointment with our attorney by calling 904-637-1129. We arrange appointments during normal business hours as well as in the evening or on a weekend if necessary.