Brandon, FL asked in Estate Planning, Real Estate Law and Probate for Florida

Q: My aunt just passed away recently. In her Will she's left me her condominium, her vehicle, life insurance policy,..

.. And bank accounts. I've lived with her for almost 6 years. I just received her urn and death certificates. My first question is: When I received the death certificates, there was no cause of death listed. (She passed away from lymphoma) Is that normal in the state of Florida not to list cause of death? My second question is: My plan is to close out any bank accounts, and sell her condominium and vehicle ASAP. I've been told that it needs to go through probate first. Also, I'm assuming I'll need to show some kind of documentation (besides the Will) to prove that I'm legally able to close bank accounts, sell her vehicle and to sell the condominium. What exactly do I need in order to sell these things quickly? I'm sorry if I seem nervous. I'm just really scared. I've never been through anything like this before, and would appreciate any help or suggestions.

Thank you for your time,

Sincerely,

Travis.

5 Lawyer Answers
Mr. Long H. Duong
Mr. Long H. Duong
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Gainesville, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: Sounds like you’ll need to open probate to have the Will admitted (think “activated”) so you can transfer assets.

You’ll want to consult directly with a probate attorney about your options and path forward.

BTW, the death certificate you received is referred to as the short form. You can request a long form with cause of death as well though you will probably not need one for probate.

C. Randolph Coleman
C. Randolph Coleman
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Jacksonville, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: I agree with Mr. Duong. You need to consult with an experienced probate attorney. You will need to probate your aunt’s estate and you will need a probate lawyer to accomplish that result.

Phillip William Gunthert
Phillip William Gunthert
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Orlando, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: Very sorry for your loss and the passing of your aunt, please accept my condolences and sympathy for you and your family at this difficult time. You will need to contact a Florida Probate Attorney and they will be able help you with filing the appropriate probate based on the circumstances, assets that need to go through probate and overall value of the estate. Depending on the type of assets and their value this will determine the type of probate required. Death certificates usually have no cause of death, this is done on purpose and for privacy reasons, cause of death will have nothing to do or have any impact on probate, it is normal for it to be this way. You will want to make a copy of the Will, the original goes to the clerk of the court, you can wait until you speak with a/your probate attorney. You need not be in Florida in order to do this, most of it can be handled via e-file on your behalf with your probate attorney. Any assets in your aunts name alone will have to go through probate. The property was likely her homestead (main place of residence) and special rules and potentially filings will apply to that as well for protection against creditor etc. Banks and other accounts will not let you access those monies/accounts or funds until you get a court order naming you as personal representative of the estate or the proper petition is filed on your behalf. Florida in most all circumstances will require you to have an attorney for probate. Your probate attorney will guide you and answer your questions and guide you through the process on what to do and how to do it when the time comes.

Richard Paul Zaretsky
Richard Paul Zaretsky
Answered
  • West Palm Beach, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: No need to be nervous - just use an attorney to file a probate administration. Depending on the value of the estate assets, you may be able to file a "summary administration" which should take all of 2 or 3 weeks.

Your issue is that you need a court to appoint someone to get all the assets. Since your aunt cannot sign transfer documents, you need to have the court either give you the authority to sign for your aunt or the court will distribute the assets according to her Will.

You need an attorney to get this right.

Lauren Nagel Richardson
Lauren Nagel Richardson
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Gainesville, FL
  • Licensed in Florida

A: Hi Travis: I am so sorry for your loss. You will need to work with a Florida probate attorney to open your aunt's estate and get the court orders admitting the will to probate transferring her assets. Depending on the size of the estate, you may qualify for summary administration, which is a small estate proceeding where certain petitions are filed and the judge's orders are signed in a relatively short period of time. Our office handles probate estates anywhere in Florida. We offer free phone consultations and a flat fee for summary administration. You are welcome to give me a call if you would like more information.

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