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Florida Statutes, Section 733.101: Venue of Probate Proceeding

Probate is the legal process of settling the estate of a deceased person. It is involves identifying the decedent’s assets, paying his or her bills, and distributing the property that remains in the estate to the decedent’s beneficiaries or heirs. In Florida, the circuit court has jurisdiction over the probate process. However, Florida has rules as to the specific circuit court where a decedent’s will must be filed to initiate probate. To learn more about the process of initiating the probate process, including the requirements of Florida Statutes, section 733.101- Venue of probate proceeding, contact a skilled Fort Lauderdale estate attorney at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates who has the experience and skill to ensure that all of the requirements of the Florida Probate Code are followed.

Venue of Probate Proceeding

The venue of the court proceeding is the specific court where the case must be heard. Under Florida Statutes, section 733.101- Venue of probate proceeding, to initiate probate, the decedent’s will must be filed with the clerk of the circuit court in the Florida county in which the decedent lived at the time of death. If the decedent did not have a residence in Florida, then the venue of the probate proceeding can be any county in which the decedent had property at the time of his or her death. If the decedent did not reside in Florida and did not have property in Florida, probate can still take place in Florida if a debtor or debtors of the decedent resides in Florida. In such a case, the proper venue would be the county where any debtor of the decedent resides.

As an experienced Fort Lauderdale estate lawyer will explain, whoever has the decedent’s will, typically the personal representative named in the will, must deposit the will with the clerk of the court having venue within 10 days of learning that the decedent passed away. The law requires that the original will must be filed and not a copy. In addition to producing the will, the person must also provide the court with the decedent’s date of death and social security number.

If the custodian of the will fails to timely file the will, a court order will be issued compelling the person who has the will to produce it.

Absence of a Will

If the decedent passed without having a will, the estate must still go through an administration process and the circuit court still has jurisdiction. The venue rules that apply to filing a will apply to initiating an administration proceeding in the absence of a will. The entire administration process is essentially the same. The main difference is that in the absence of a will, instead of the decedent’s assets going to individuals named in the will, the assets will go to the decedent’s legal heirs based on Florida’s rules of intestate succession.

Supervision of the Probate Process

The circuit court judge supervises the entire probate process. The activities involved in settling an estate are performed or managed by a personal representative. While the personal representative is typically the person who the decedent named in his or her will, if any, anyone wishing to serve as personal representative must be qualified and must be formally appointed by the court. In the absence of will, certain individuals are entitled to petition the court to be named the personal representative. Once an appointment is made, the judge will issue the personal representative a document referred to as “Letters of Administration.” Letters of administration serve as proof that the personal representative has legal authority to perform the activities required to settle the decedent’s estate. For more information about the authority of a personal representative, contact an experienced estate attorney in Fort Lauderdale.

Related Statutory Provisions
  1. Production of wills: § 732.901, Fla. Stat.
  2. Effect of probate: § 733.103, Fla. Stat.
  3. Determination of beneficiaries: § 733.1051, Fla. Stat.
FL. Stat, Section 733.101- Venue of Probate Proceeding

(1) The venue for probate of wills and granting letters shall be:

(a) In the county in this state where the decedent was domiciled.

(b) If the decedent had no domicile in this state, then in any county where the decedent’s property is located.

(c) If the decedent had no domicile in this state and possessed no property in this state, then in the county where any debtor of the decedent resides.

(2) For the purpose of this section, a married woman whose husband is an alien or a nonresident of Florida may establish or designate a separate domicile in this state.

(3) Whenever a proceeding is filed laying venue in an improper county, the court may transfer the action in the same manner as provided in the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure. Any action taken by the court or the parties before the transfer is not affected by the improper venue.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

In Florida, the process of settling an estate can take up to 12 months after the letters of administration are issued. If there are disputes during the process the timeframe may be extended. Whether you are a personal representative, beneficiary, heir, or other interested party, to ensure that you understand the legal requirements of initiating a probate process, it is important that you discuss the process with an experienced estate attorney who understands the probate process, including the requirements of Florida Statutes, section 733.101- Venue of probate proceeding. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience representing clients in matters related to initiating probate, probate administration, and other estate matters.

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