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A simple explanation of a guardianship in Florida

Attorneys in Florida are often asked about legal guardianship, why it is used and what the requirements are. As the name implies, a guardianship is a proceeding for the protection of those who cannot protect themselves.

When someone is unable to fully care for him or herself, a court can appoint someone to act in the place of the disabled individual. The person appointed by the court for this task is called a guardian. The person protected, often a minor, is the ward. Depending on the situation, the guardian may play several roles.

What will happen if I die without a will in Florida?

It’s all too easy to put off writing your will. Nobody wants to think about what will happen – and who will get what – when they are gone.

But if you don’t make those decisions today, you may be surprised - and potentially disappointed - by what will happen in the future if you die without a will.

Factors that determine probate length

One of the more popular questions most beneficiaries have for probate is how long the process will last. Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to that question. Florida does have some laws in place to limit the time, but varying circumstances could place the probate process from four months to more than a year.

Before the probate starts, you should keep these factors in mind if you are trying to guess how long the proceedings could last. It can help you strategize your approach to the process.

What an executor does

Some people in Florida may find themselves in the role of estate executor after a loved one has died. The role carries with it a number of responsibilities, but an executor is allowed to consult professionals including an attorney.

The executor's role is to put the will through probate, locate and protect assets, pay any of the estate's debts and distribute assets to beneficiaries. The executor is authorized to act on behalf of the estate but is also liable for mismanaging the estate.

Petition asks judge to expand administrator's powers

Florida residents may know that when a person dies, his or her estate may need to go through probate. This is the case for the estate of singer Glen Campbell, who died in August 2017. The interim administrator for his estate is asking for additional powers to complete tasks ahead of federal deadlines. Currently, he only has the power to collect money and make mandatory payments.

He would like the ability to hire outside experts to place a value on royalties and other assets within the estate. A judge was also asked to order the singer's three children to certify their will contest. Those children were excluded from the will and were challenging it in probate court. By filing the certification, the interim administrator believes that he can better determine how long he will need to serve in that role.

Steps you must take to establish guardianship in Florida

At some point in your life, you may need to establish guardianship of a loved one, which will allow you to handle that loved one's affairs for them.

Whether you need to establish guardianship of a child, or of an aging parent struggling with mental acuity, the process is the same. Once that process is completed, that loved one will become a "ward of the court" and you will be their legal guardian.

What happens when a family member passes away without a will?

It may surprise you to learn that few people have had their last will and testaments recorded. According to the AARP, only 40% of all Americans have planned for what will be done after they pass away, including drafting a will. If you have a parent who has not done any estate planning, you may want to gently suggest it.

We have already discussed what happens when you are the s will, let us take a moment to consider what happens when someone passes away without a will at all. Laws vary by state, and if the deceased is married. An attorney specializing in estate planning will be able to give you answers for your specific situation, but generally an individual’s estate will be settled in one of these ways.

The tasks of an executor of a parent's will

Many people may get their first real close-up look at the Florida probate system after being named executor of a parent's will. In many cases, the adult child who was named will be unfamiliar with what is needed and how to handle this practical yet emotional task. The executor of a will is charged with carrying out the wishes of the decedent as expressed in that document.

Being the executor of a will involves clearing up the financial obligations of the estate from the estate's funds. It is not the obligation of executors to pay estate bills from their own pockets. This can include paying off debts that belonged to the parent before he or she passed away or paying the final taxes owed by the estate. After these debts and taxes are cleared, the executor has the responsibility to see that the decedent's assets are distributed as specified in the will. During the period before the estate is distributed, the executor is responsible for keeping up the property and appearing in probate court when necessary.

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