Legal Blog

December 12, 2019

Do You Need Legal Assistance During Probate?

Whether you are designated as the personal representative of a loved one’s estate, are a beneficiary under a will (or by statute), or believe you should be an heir to an estate, you will be involved in the probate process after someone passes away. With smaller estates, probate may not require that you seek legal representation; however, many complications can arise during this legal process. It is helpful to seek assistance from a Florida probate lawyer throughout this complex process.

Administering an Estate

On it’s face an estate administration may appear relatively straightforward.  Yet, beware because not only may issues arise throughout the process but there is also an extensive list of responsibilities that you will need to address. Tasks might include:

  • Taking inventory of all of the estate assets and property
  • Submitting the will to the probate court
  • Identifying beneficiaries under the will
  • Settling debts
  • Filing final tax returns
  • Distributing estate property according to the will

These tasks can often be more complex and time-consuming than you might think at the start. It can be helpful for personal representatives to have an attorney guiding them and providing counsel and assistance throughout the process.

Fiduciary Duty Concerns

A personal representative has a fiduciary duty to the beneficiaries of an estate, which is the highest legal duty in U.S. law. This means that a personal representative cannot waste estate assets, act in a self-serving manner, or fail to keep beneficiaries informed, among many other duties. A knowledgeable attorney can advise you of your duties and how to abide by them to prevent any allegations against you from beneficiaries. 

If someone does allege that you violated your fiduciary duty, you definitely want to speak with a lawyer right away. These claims can result in personal liability for you if a beneficiary shows that you caused them losses or otherwise violated your duty. A lawyer can help to defend against such claims and prevent liability whenever possible.

Will Contests

Part of the probate process is for the court to ensure the will is valid and enforceable. Even if a will seems to be valid, someone might raise concerns and contest the will. These contests can come from anyone who stands to benefit from the will – or who believes they should. Will contests can involve claims of the following:

  • Undue influence
  • Lack of mental capacity to draft or amend a will
  • There is a more recent will
  • Fraud or coercion

The personal representative defends the will during probate, and should always have the right legal assistance if a will contest arises. These can be challenging claims both to bring and to defend. 

Contact a Florida Probate Attorney to Learn More

Some people may complete probate without legal assistance, though you never know when something might happen or a problem arises that causes serious delays or complications during probate administration. The Legacy Law Firm regularly assists personal representatives, beneficiaries, or heirs during probate to ensure all rights are protected, and conflicts are properly addressed. Call 954-999-9683. or contact us online to discuss our probate administration services.


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