Q: My uncle passed suddenly and he has no will.Can I fly from Calif. with death cert. to claim his assets in Fla.w/out law
Can I, being his niece, fly to Florida with his death certificate and authorization to represent the surviving family, be able to have his assets transferred? Do I need to get a probate lawyer? I know of most of his assets, none including real estate. He had recently sold his house in Coconut Grove. He has a bank account and artwork to be appraised. Please let me know what I will need to succeed in coming there. Also if I can represent the surviving family being three sisters, my mother being the eldest and unable to travel. Thank you very much for your response.
A: I am very sorry for your loss on the passing of your uncle, please accept my condolences for you and your family at this sad and difficult time. You will need to speak with a Florida Probate Attorney, if there is no Will or Trust, then the Florida Intestate Statutes will apply (without a Will). The type of assets and the overall value will determine the type of probate that is required. If it is over $75,000, which it sounds like it will be if the home was recently sold, then it will be a Formal Probate, Florida will require you to have a probate attorney in most all circumstances of this type. It will also matter and depend on whether he has a surviving spouse and or children. Whether you can be the estate Personal Representative (Executor) will be determined by the other interested parties that may have priority, if it is agreed by the interested parties, then you can serve in this role. You will be able to do very little with the estate until a probate is commenced and you receive the necessary court ordered documents to serve as the Personal Representative of the estate (letter of Administration), without these the bank will likely not speak to you, nor anyone, it is further likely you will not be able to secure or enter his property, so be aware and prepared. You will need a certified copy of the death certificate (short form, without cause of death on it). If there are funeral costs and expenses, these should also be organized and the receipts gathered, any bank or investment accounts or other accounts, you should check to see if there are any pay on death or transfer on death designations, if not, those assets will need to be probated. If the only family of your uncle are his siblings and they are agreement for you to serve in the role as the estate personal representative, it is likely you will be approved if you otherwise qualify. I will note, the vast majority of things are handled via e-file and online these days, you need not be here in Florida to initially get things going, you do need to speak with a Florida Probate Attorney though for some feedback and to start the process.
A: Based on your description of the assets, you will likely need a probate attorney to obtain an Order Appointing you as Personal Representative and to administer this estate. If the sisters (heirs) consent, you may be able to serve as personal representative. Consult with a probate attorney for more information.
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