Estates & Wills
The term “probate” generally refers to the process in which a decedent’s assets, or estate, are administered. There are several types of Probate proceedings which are all filed with our office.
Whether or not an estate is required to go through Probate depends on the assets that the decedent owned at the time of his or her death. For instance, if a decedent solely owned any real property at the time of his or her death, the estate would be required to go through Probate in order to transfer title of that real property to the decedent’s heirs or beneficiaries. In this type of a situation, the beneficiaries or heirs would need to seek the assistance of an attorney as our office cannot give legal or procedural advice.
Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration
There are times however, when our office can assist heirs and beneficiaries through a process referred to as a Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration. This process is also sometimes referred to as a Small Estate Proceeding. Please refer to Florida Statute 735.301 to determine if you are eligible for this type of process. This form may not be used when real property is involved. If you are unsure as to whether this process applies to your situation, you may wish to contact an attorney.
The required forms and documentation for a Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration are as follows:
- Original Last Will and Testament of the decedent, if one exists
- Death Certificate
- Copy of the statement from funeral home showing by whom the bill was paid
- Signed and notarized consents from all heirs, if any
- Copy of the bank statement, stock certificates, insurance checks, policy value information forms, or any related information regarding the assets that you are attempting to transfer with this procedure.
Once these required forms and documentation are in order, please come to the Probate Division for assistance. One of our staff will assist you in completing the petition for this procedure and will present it to the presiding probate judge. The filing fee is due at the time the Petition is filed. There is also a charge for one certified copy of the Order for Payment of Funds which is generally required by the institution holding the assets. If the judge approves the petition, an Order for Payment of Funds will be entered by the probate court which directs that the assets in question be distributed as outlined in the petition.
Pursuant to Florida Statute 732.901, the original Last Will and Testament of a deceased person must be deposited with the Clerk of the Circuit Court having venue of the estate of the decedent within 10 days after receiving information that the testator (a person who dies leaving a will) is dead. The statute also states that the custodian of the will must supply the clerk with the date of death or social security number of the testator upon deposit. Our office also requires that a death certificate be filed with the original will. Please be advised that there is no charge or filing fee to deposit a will with our office.
Upon depositing a will with our office, the depositor will receive a Receipt for Deposit of Will which includes the file number, date of filing, and the seal of the Gulf County Clerk of the Circuit Court. This receipt is something that should be placed with other important documents concerning the deceased.
In some instances, the company or office holding assets of the deceased will require a certified copy of the Last Will and Testament to transfer the assets in question. It is always a good idea to contact the company or office and inquire as to what is needed to complete the transfer. Our office can provide you with certified copies of the will at the rate of $1.00 per page, plus a $2.00 charge for certification.