By: Rebecca L. Nichols, Esq.

Published at

22 November 2022

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Letters of Administrations Florida Probate Law.

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.

Letters of Testamentary, known as Letters of Administration in Florida, grant authority to handle a deceased person's affairs, crucial for accessing assets and settling the estate.

But just because the estate has a personal representative doesn't mean the executor has free will to administer the estate without court authority. A Judge must issue letters of administration to proceed with the Probate Administration process.

Key Take-Aways
  1. In Florida, Letters of Administration grant legal authority to a personal representative to handle the affairs of a deceased person's estate.
  2. These letters are issued by the circuit/county court to authorize the personal representative to act on behalf of the estate.
  3. These are required to access the decedent's assets, including bank accounts, safe deposit boxes, and real estate.
  4. Financial institutions ask for these letters from loved ones to prevent illegal transactions of deceased assets.
  5. In case of a valid Will a surviving spouse, child, or parent of a deceased can petition for letters of administration in Florida. But if a person dies Intestate, the Florida Intestacy law overtakes.
  6. The process varies in duration depending on the complexity of the case and any disputes involved.

What are Letters of Administrations Florida?

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 passing. These Letters are issued by a Judge once a Petition for Administration is filed and all other legal requirements are met.

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.

The person named as your 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,safety deposit boxes, 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).

Why are Letters of Administration or Letters of Testamentary Required?

It is common for banks and other institutions to ask loved ones to provide "Letters of Testamentary" or “Letters of Administration” to access a decedent's assets held within the bank or institution. 

  1. Banks are careful not to carry out any unauthorized transactions with a decedent’s assets after his or her passing.
  2. Institutions want to ensure they are working only with the individual with legal authority to carry out the transactions.
  3. 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.

Who can apply for Letters of Administration in Florida?

  1. A nominatedPersonal Representative, surviving spouse, child, or parent of a deceased person in Florida, if not disqualified from serving as personal representative, can petition for letters of administration. 
  2. In case 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.
Florida Inheritance Law and Letters of Administration
  1. 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. But, If your loved one dies without a will, the Florida law of Intestacy takes over.
  2. Florida law states the surviving spouse has priority to serve as personal representative. If a spouse did not survive the decedent, 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.
Explore How to Petition for Letters of Administration inTestate vs Intestate Estates

How Do I Get Letters of Testamentary or Letters of Administration in Florida?

  1. The first step in getting a Letter of Administration is to file a Petition for Administration with the Court.
  2. This Petition is filed with the Clerk of Courts orCourt Clerk and presented to the Judge for consideration.
  3. The Judge issues letters of Administration and authorizes your Representative to act on behalf of the estate.
  4. A filing fee must be paid and generally ranges between $200-$450, depending upon the kind of probate case.

How long does it take to get Letters of Administration?

  1. The process to get Letters of Administration is known as a probate proceeding. This is a court-supervised process that is largely procedural.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
Suggested Read:  
12 Mistakes Every Personal Representative Must Avoid

Talk To A Probate Estates and Trusts Lawyer Today

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 experiencedprobate 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.

Useful Resources:

  1. Moved to Florida but you had an out-of-state estate plan? Now what
  2. As a non-Florida Resident, what will happen if you die with a property in Florida?

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