There are many steps to settling a Miami estate. The personal representative of the decedent needs to locate the decedent’s assets. It will be necessary to find any burial instructions, obtain a certified copy of the death certificate, locate the decedent’s original last will and testament, any trust documents, life insurance policies, bank accounts, pension plans, IRA accounts, corporate business documents, safe deposit box key and information of location of box, jewelry, family heirlooms, artwork, collectibles, stocks and bonds, deeds to real estate, title to vehicles, driver’s license, passport, social security information, list of digital accounts and tax returns.

Opening a Formal Probate

The personal representative needs to open a formal probate. Only assets that are held in the decedent’s sole name at the time of death are subject to probate in Florida. Joint assets, assets transferred to a trust or assets with named beneficiaries pass outside the estate and are not subject to probate.

The court will issue letters of administration appointing the executor/personal representative named in the decedent’s will. Letters of administration give the executor or personal representative the power to transact estate business on behalf of the decedent’s estate such as opening and closing financial accounts, and selling estate assets.

Notice to Creditors

The Personal Representative must publish a notice to creditors pursuant to Florida Statute 733.2121 containing the name of the decedent, the estate case number, the court where the probate has been filed, the name and address of the personal representative and the attorney for the estate, and the date of the first publication. Under Florida law, the notice must also notify creditors of the statutory time period in which they have to file a creditor’s claim.

The notice must be published once a week for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in Miami-Dade County, where the estate is being administered. The notice must be sent to creditors. If a creditor has already filed a claim, then it is not necessary for the personal representative to give them a notice.

Proof of publication of the notice must be file with the Court within 45 days of the date of the first publication of the notice. The notice must also be sent to the Florida Dept. of Revenue. If the notice has not been sent, then a copy of the Inventory filed with the Court must be sent in lieu of the notice. The personal representative has four months from the date of the first publication of the notice in which to file a verified statement that the personal representative has made a diligent search for all creditors.

Paying Bills and Taxes

The personal representative must pay all the decedent’s bills and taxes before distributing the assets to the beneficiaries and winding up and closing the estate. Settling a Miami estate takes on average about 9 months, but can be longer depending upon the size of the estate and other estate administration matters that may arise.

If you wish to speak to a Miami estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Gurevich at (786) 522-1411.