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Probate is the legal process of transferring property ownership out of a deceased person’s name and into the name of heirs or beneficiaries. There are three types of probate:
Disposition Without Administration: Quickest and easiest form of probate administration, yet hardest to qualify for.
Summary Administration: This probate is available to decedents who died more than 2 years ago or owned assets valued at less than $75,000.00.
Formal Administration: This is the most common probate and requires the appointment of a Personal Representative whose duty is to ensure all of the decedent’s creditors are paid and the decedent’s remaining property is distributed to the heirs or beneficiaries.
A caveat is a legal document filed with the probate court to provide notice to the court that there is an interested party who wants to be notified if probate estate is opened. It allows the interested party, typically a beneficiary or creditors, to receive a copy of the petition for administration without having to open a probate estate themselves. This document ensure that a nominated personal representative cannot open an estate without notifying the person who filed the caveat. This allows the filer of the caveat to object to the Petition for Administration or prevent the nominated personal representative from being appointed. For guidance on filing a caveat see Fla. Stat. 731.110 and Fla. Prob. R. 5.260.
Reasons why an individual may file a caveat with a probate attorney includes:
Person is in possession of the last will and testament and is not in communication with named beneficiaries or the nominated personal representative.
Next of kin of the decedent who were not in communication with the decedent and do not have any information on whether the decedent had a will.
A creditor or beneficiary of the decedent whom is owed a debt by the decedent and requires notice to timely file their claim against the estate; or
A beneficiary or next of kin believes a person procured a will from the decedent on the decedent’s deathbed by undue influence and such will should not be valid or probated.