22 November 2023
The loss of a loved one can lead to feelings of both emotional and financial instability, and it is never an easy thing to cope with. Oftentimes, loved ones are left scrambling to get the decedent’s affairs in order. This process is commonly surrounded by lots of questions and uncertainty about what to do next. The process of administering an estate, satisfying creditors, and distributing assets can be complicated and lengthy, but it’s certainly not impossible. You just need to know what steps to take.
If your loved one left a will before dying, they probably nominated the executor or personal representative to carry out their wishes as per their Will. If your loved Dies without a will, Florida law takes over.
Florida law states the surviving spouse has priority to serve as personal representative. If the decedent was not survived by a spouse, then the individual selected by a majority in the interest of the heirs has priority to serve. Where neither of those options exists, the heir in the nearest degree will have priority.
But just because the estate has a personal representative doesn't mean the executor has free will to administer the estate without court authority. Letters of administration must be issued by a Judge to proceed with the Probate Administration process.
You must be wondering, "What are Letters of Administration?"
Letters of Administration are issued by the Judge and authorize your Personal Representative to act on behalf of the estate.
Letters of administration allow the executor or personal representative to act as a representative of the estate, meaning he or she can take care of the deceased’s financial and legal affairs.
In Florida, Letters of Testamentary are known as Letters of Administration. Letters of Administration provide the personal representative, commonly known as the executor, legal authority to settle the decedent's affairs after his or her passing. These Letters are issued by a Judge after a Petition for Administration is filed and all other legal requirements are met.
The person named as your personal representative will have full power over all assets owned at the time you died and any other property that comes into his or her possession as part of your estate. This includes bank accounts and real estate holdings as well as stocks, bonds, and cash funds held by others on behalf of your family member who passed away (for example, a financial advisor).
It is common for banks and other institutions to ask loved ones to provide "Letters of Testamentary" or “Letters of Administration” in order to access a decedent's assets held within the bank or institution. Banks are careful not to carry out any unauthorized transactions with a decedent’s assets after his or her passing. Institutions want to ensure they are working only with the individual with legal authority to carry out the transactions. Letters of Administration are issued by the Judge and provided to banks as evidence of the personal representative’s authority to transact business on behalf of the estate.
If you are a nominated Personal Representative, surviving spouse, child, or parent of a deceased person in Florida, and are not otherwise disqualified from serving as personal representative, you may petition for letters of administration. If no executor has been named in the will and there is no surviving spouse or next of kin with sufficient interest in carrying out their wishes regarding the disposition of assets left behind at death, then any interested person may petition to be appointed as personal representative. Read in detail about the About the
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To receive Letters of Administration, you must file a Petition for Administration with the Court. This Petition is filed with the Clerk of Courts or Court Clerk and presented to the Judge for consideration. A filling fee must be paid and generally ranges between $200-$450, depending upon the kind of probate case.
The process to get Letters of Administration is known as a probate proceeding. This is a Court supervised process that is largley procedural in nature. Depending upon the complexity of the case and the Judge’s calendar, it can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months to receive your Letters of Administration. If you have a simple case and there is no dispute over the estate, you may be able to get letters of administration within 2-6 weeks. If your case is complicated, if there are disputes over who should be appointed as personal representative, or if there are any other issues in front of you that need to be resolved first, it could take longer.
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We hope this article has helped you understand the process behind getting letters of administration. We know that times like these are difficult and this complex process can be overwhelming, but we're here for you! Our team of experienced probate estates and trusts lawyers is here with answers to all of your questions about the probate process. Call today to schedule your complimentary consultation with one of our experienced attorneys.
Disclosure: The information contained in this website and blog is of a general nature and is not intended in any way to answer individual legal questions. If you have a legal question concerning your individual circumstances, please contact our firm to schedule a conference with one of our experienced attorneys. Your review of information from this website or blog does not create an attorney-client relationship, nor any legal privileges relating thereto. Offices in Ocala and Sebring.