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Whenever the discussion turns to probate, I have noticed that there seem to be a lot of questions and misunderstandings surrounding what it is, how it works and if it is necessary. Over the next few weeks, I will try to address some of the more frequent q

Whenever the discussion turns to probate, I have noticed that there seem to be a lot of questions and misunderstandings surrounding what it is, how it works and if it is necessary. Over the next few weeks, I will try to address some of the more frequent questions and misunderstandings that I encounter.

The first question is “What is probate”?

When someone dies, probate is a way in which we can transfer their assets to their beneficiaries and make sure their creditors are paid. Think of it like the steps involved in closing and wrapping up a business. This business just happens to be the business of someone’s life.

Probate is the wrapping up process used when someone dies with a will (testate) or without a will (intestate). It is not the primary wrapping up process used when someone dies with a trust, but as we will see in later weeks, probate can still play a very important role in wrapping things up when someone dies with a trust.

When I explain how probate works, I use the example of a car. When someone prepares a will, they are designing a car that they keep in their garage until they pass away. They decide what the car will look like, who can ride in the car (the beneficiaries) and what they want to put in the trunk of the car (the assets). They can do everything to make this car ready for driving except buy tires. So when they pass away, the car can’t leave the garage until it gets tires. The only way to get tires is to go through probate. Once the tires are on the car, it can leave the garage and begin the journey that it was designed to take.

When someone does not prepare a will, there is still a car with beneficiaries and assets in the trunk sitting in their garage. The only difference is that instead of designing the car themselves and deciding who the passengers will be and what will be in the trunk, they have accepted the generic model car and the passengers that the state of Florida designs as the default plan for everyone who dies without a will. That car still has to go through probate to get tires so it can leave the garage.

  • Why Choose
    Our Firm?

    We limit the number of clients that we have at one time, allowing us to focus on your case.

    Personalized Representation
  • Know the
    Benefits

    Find out if you and your family can benefit from our elder law planning services!

    More Information
  • Dedicated & Experienced

    Our firm exclusively handles elder law concerns so your family can obtain peace of mind.

    Meet Your Attorney
  • Complimentary Consultation

    Let us help. Request your consultation today and we will be in touch.

    Contact Us Now

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Edwards Elder Law, P.A.
St. Petersburg Elder Law Attorney
Located at: 2510 1st Ave. N.,
St. Petersburg, FL 33713
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