- Florida Statutes – Chapters 731 through 739 Wills & Estates
- Florida Bar – Rules of Procedure
- Florida Bar – Consumer Information on Probate in Florida
- Florida Bar – Lawyer Referral Service
- Florida Department of Health Office of Vital Statistics Online Forms
Frequently Asked Questions
My spouse recently died, do I need to deposit the Will?
F.S.732.901 The custodian of a Will must deposit the Will with the Clerk of the Court having venue of the estate of the decedent within 10 days after receiving information that the person has passed away.
How do I avoid Probate?
You must see your attorney and advise him or her of your financial situation in order to preserve your assets and have them distributed, as you desire.
If I have a claim on a decedent’s estate, how do I collect?
You should file a Statement of Claim form in duplicate within three months from the date of the first publication. There is no fee for filing a claim.
Where is the proper place to probate an estate?
The Venue of Probate of all Wills and Granting Letters shall be in the state where the decedent was domiciled. (F.S. 733.101)
Can I deposit my Will with the Court?
No, a Will cannot be deposited with the court before the person’s death.
What is the cost of a certified copy?
Copies are $1.00 per page, and there is an additional $2.00 to certify the document.
I am a creditor of a person who is missing, and I understand a Conservatorship has been opened, can I file a claim?
No, you should contact the Conservator of the Property for this missing person. The same would apply to a Curator Guardianship.
What do I need to obtain a Court Order so that the money in bank accounts belonging to my deceased husband can be released to me?
First of all, the account must be the decedent’s entire estate. If you are the one who has paid the funeral bill, a copy of the paid funeral bill is required along with the Death Certificate and full information concerning the assets in question.
Why do I need a copy of the paid in full funeral bill?
The purpose of a Disposition of Personal Property without Administration is to reimburse the person who has paid the funeral bill.
Can small estates release cars?
No, as a general rule most cars are handled directly by the Motor Vehicle Department.
Can you tell me over the telephone if a Probate has been opened on a particular individual?
Yes, just call our probate department at (850) 638-6285. The deputy clerk will be happy to assist you.
Can I do a search for a Probate Case online?
Yes, however document images for probate cases are not available via online public access.
What if I have a claim against or I am a potential beneficiary of an estate that has not been probated yet and I want to be notified when a Probate is opened?
You can file a Caveat, for which there is a filing fee of $41. When a Probate is opened for that estate, you will be notified and provided the name and address of the petitioner/personal representative and of his or her attorney.
Why do I need an attorney to be appointed as Guardianship or to Probate an estate?
Probate Rule 5.030 of Florida Rules of Court specifies “Every Guardian and every Personal Representative, unless the Personal Representative remains the sole interested person, shall be represented by an attorney admitted to practice in Florida.” Furthermore, the clerks of this office cannot answer any legal questions, nor assist in preparing legal forms, nor do we provide any legal forms, with the sole exception of the Petition for Disposition of Personal Property without Administration, discussed elsewhere.
I don’t have enough money to hire an attorney, what should I do?
Contact Legal Services of Northwest Florida. Their contact information can be found under the useful links provided under the General Information tab, above.
What do I need to obtain a Court Order so that the money in a bank account or in an Insurance Policy belonging to my deceased relative can be released to me?
If the estate in question consists only of cash assets, and you paid the funeral expenses, you may initiate a procedure called a Disposition of Personal Property without Administration. To do so, the decedent must have been domiciled in this county at the time of death, and you must provide the Death Certificate, a copy of the receipt for the funeral cost showing all expenses have been paid in full, and a copy of the most currently available bank statement or other document concerning the assets in question; you must also pay the filing fee of $231.00 in cash, cashiers check, or money order. This procedure will only release funds up to the cost of the funeral and any other related expenses as specified in Florida Statute 735.301, all of which must be verified by receipts. If the funeral expenses have not been paid, the Court Order will direct that the assets be released directly to the funeral home.
I am not the Legal Guardian, but how can I gain or prove custody of a child?
To prove custodial rights for a child, the proper documents will need to be filed through the Family Law Department. The Family Law Department is located 1293 Jackson Avenue, Suite 101, Chipley, FL 32428. The Family Law Department may be contacted for questions at (850) 638-6008.