Dealing with the death of a loved one can be overwhelming. During what is often a difficult time, families are left with the responsibility of managing the deceased’s estate.
Getting the help of a Pensacola probate attorney is one of the best ways to take as much stress as possible out of this process.
At Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon, we have the expertise to handle your probate matters with compassion and dedication. Let us take care of the difficult parts of probate administration while you and your family take the time you need to recover.
What Is Probate?
Probate is the legal process of managing someone’s estate when they die. An estate typically includes most of that person’s assets, like bank accounts or personal belongings.
When someone dies with a valid will, a probate court will administer the estate according to the terms of the will. Wills are usually just one part of an estate plan, which helps protect someone’s legacy when they die.
In general, the probate process involves several key steps:
- Opening the estate;
- Paying creditors; and
- Distributing property according to the will or Florida law.
With respect to distributing property, a decedent’s wishes may not be honored if the decedent died without a will.
How Long Does Probate Take?
On average, fully probating a will can take up to a full year. Keep in mind, however, that the actual time will depend on the size and complexity of the estate. Smaller estates, for example, may take less time simply because there are less assets to distribute.
Additionally, disputes between beneficiaries or arguments about the validity of the will may further lengthen the time it takes to administer an estate.
Do I Need a Probate Attorney?
There is no legal requirement that you hire a probate attorney. However, doing so is nearly always a good idea. Probating a will can be complex, and an attorney familiar with the process can be an invaluable resource.
How a Pensacola Probate Attorney Can Help
When it comes to probate, we can help ensure the proper administration of your loved one’s estate, including:
- Appraising and securing estate assets;
- Handling estate debts and creditor requirements, including any outstanding tax issues;
- Managing bank accounts;
- Assisting the executor or personal representative;
- Transferring assets to beneficiaries; and
- Protecting the estate from legal claims.
If you’re looking for a probate attorney in Pensacola, FL, look no further than Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon. For over 100 years, we’ve provided responsive and dedicated service to our clients in Pensacola and the surrounding areas on a variety of legal matters.
Make the Process as Short as Possible
Another benefit of having a probate attorney is minimizing the length of the probate process as much as possible. Because our attorneys are familiar with the probate process, they are able to help you make sure everything runs smoothly and efficiently.
Keep Extra Costs to a Minimum
Of course, hiring an attorney isn’t free. However, going through probate without legal assistance can add unexpected costs if the process drags on.
Going through probate typically costs somewhere in the range of 3-7% of the total value of the estate. The improved efficiency that comes along with hiring an attorney can help you keep that cost as low as possible.
Protect Your Privacy
As with other court proceedings, much of the record during probate becomes public. This is a major downside to probate and one reason why many people choose to use non-probate assets. These can include things like a trust.
In either case, our Pensacola, FL probate attorneys can advise you on how best to protect your privacy during this process.
Resolve Beneficiary Disputes or Will Challenges
Unfortunately, families don’t always get along during probate. All too often, arguments about the distribution of the estate drive beneficiaries apart. In some circumstances, one party may challenge the validity of the will, typically on the basis of
- Lack of mental capacity,
- Improper execution of the will,
- Undue influence,
- Fraud, or
One of the best ways to avoid these issues is hiring an estate planning attorney to assist with drafting and executing the will. If they still can’t be avoided, however, a Pensacola probate attorney can help you reach a resolution or defend against improper challenges to the will.
Contact a Florida Probate Attorney
Whether you’re looking for help with probate or interested in strengthening your estate plan, Emmanuel Sheppard & Condon can help. We are a full-service law firm with a well-developed probate practice, and our attorneys frequently advise clients on a variety of probate matters.
Contact us today online or call us at 850-433-6581 to schedule a free consultation.