Probate & Guardianship

Files and maintains records relating to Probate and Guardianship matters.

Overview

The Probate & Guardianship division is responsible for maintaining records regarding Caveats, Estates (Formal, Summary & Disposition of Personal Property), Guardianship, Wills and Trusts.

Probate

Caveat is a document filed with the Clerk's office by an individual or entity with interest in the estate of a decedent as an heir, beneficiary or creditor. Filing a Caveat will ensure that when an estate is filed the Clerk's office will issue a Notice to Caveater of the estate proceedings. The person or entity filing the caveat then must file documents necessary to protect his interest in the matter.

If the Caveat is filed by a creditor a Statement of Claim should be filed.

Formal Estate proceedings are initiated with the filing of a Petition, which is usually prepared by an attorney. A representative is appointed to become responsible for gathering all estate assets, paying bills and making distribution to the rightful heirs or beneficiaries.

This type of proceeding is used when it is necessary to appoint a representative to act on behalf of the decedent's estate or the assets are so substantial that a Summary Administration will not suffice. The capacity in which the representative will act is determined by the Court at the time of appointment and letters of administration will be issued to the representative so that he/she may administer the estate assets.

Summary Administration may be administered when the value of the entire estate subject to administration does not exceed $75,000.

Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration - The disposition is filed to request release of assets of the deceased to the person who paid the final expenses, such as funeral bills or medical bills for the last 60 days. The Clerk can assist you with the filing of an Application for Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration. The criteria for this type of filing are strict, i.e.: the decedent's assets can only be in the form of non-exempt personal property such as furniture and automobiles. The value of the personal property cannot exceed the sum of the amount of funeral expenses and any necessary medical expenses incurred during the last 60 days of illness.

Guardianship

A guardianship is a legal proceeding in the circuit court in which a guardian exercises the legal rights of a minor or incapacitated person. Guardianships are established for various reasons: An adult who lacks the ability to care for or to make decisions regarding his/her person or financial affairs; a minor who has received an inheritance or person injury settlement; or a minor who is living with someone other than a parent who will need to make decisions about schooling and health care.

A guardian can be an individual(s) or institution (like a bank) appointed by the court to guard over the person only, property only, or both person and property. Persons who have been convicted of a felony cannot be appointed. At the time of appointment the court will determine the guardian's powers to be limited or plenary to exercise some or all rights of the minor or incapacitated person.

Every guardian should become familiar with the powers and duties of a guardian reflected in Section 744.361 of the Florida Statutes. A specific function of the guardian is to file initial and annual reports as outlined in Florida Statutes 744.362 and 744.367.

In an effort to help guardian's to better understand specific time frames for filing the initial and annual reports, the Clerk has developed a Guardianship Report Scheduler.

Wills

A will is defined as a declaration by a person of how he or she desires their property to be disposed of after his/her death. This document is revocable at anytime by the testator and it has no purpose until the death of the testator does occur.

Within 10 days after receiving information of the testator's death, the custodian of a Will must deposit the Will with the clerk of court having venue of the estate, Section 732.901 of the Florida Statutes. Upon deposit the custodian must supply the decedent's date of death or last four digits of the testator's social security number.

Fees and Fines

Administration
Summary Administration ($1,000.00 or less) 235.00
Summary Administration (greater than $1,000.00) 345.00
Formal Administration 400.00
Trust Administration 400.00
Caveat/Trust Notice 41.00
Deposit Last Will and Testament of decedent (no probate) N/C
Opening of any estate of one document or more, including but not limited to petitions and orders to approve settlement of minor's claims, enter rooms and places, open a safe deposit box, for the determination of heirs, but not to include issuance of letters or order of summary 231.00
Foreign Guardian to manage property 235.00
Guardianship, person only 235.00
Guardianship, property only or property and person 400.00
Guardianship Inventory Audit Fees 85.00
Guardianship Annual Accounting Report - Audit Fees
$25,000.00 or less 20.00
$25,000.01 - $100,000.00 85.00
$100,000.01 - $500,000.00 170.00
Over $500,000.00 250.00
Guardianship, Veteran's Administration 235.00
Personal Property, disposition w/o administration 231.00
Petition for Determination for Incapacity and Restoration 231.00
Petition/Order to admit foreign wills, authenticated copies, exemplified copies, or transcript to record 231.00
Professional Guardianship 7.50
Summons Issuance, per summons 10.00
Attorney Appearance Pro Hac Vice 100.00
Reopen of Case 50.00
Crossclaim, Counterclaim or Third Party Complaint 395.00