Should a simple probate take a year in Florida?


When there are no estate taxes due, a typical full probate administration should take four to six months.


Attorney Tom Olsen: Bob, you're on News 96.5. Go ahead.

Bob: Hi, how are you?

Attorney Tom Olsen: Doing great, thank you.

Bob: Good. I'm the personal representative of an estate that's in probate. I was listening to your discussion of probate a few minutes ago and I wanted to ask you about something.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Okay, go ahead.

Bob: This estate has been in probate, depending on how you count it, for a year. There is no federal estate tax due, obviously, no Florida estate tax due, no creditors, and no real estate. Is this typical?

Attorney Tom Olsen: No. Bob, I'm at least some of the blame for you for letting it happen this way but I'm going to -- I assume you've hired a lawyer. I'm going to put most of blame on that lawyer for taking a year.

Bob: Yes, that's what I wondered.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Yes, you got a lawyer who does not know what he or she is doing.

Bob: The blame on me is water over the dam and I understand your point. I've made sure that all my friends and relatives know that I'll do it the way we didn't do it, but we're stuck.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Yes, Bob. How much money is in this estate?

Bob: About $3 million.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Well, Bob, that's a whole lot of money. Is that $3 million still sitting in an account somewhere or have you guys done some partial distributions?

Bob: We finally did some partial distributions.

Attorney Tom Olsen: All right. Bob, if the estate is as simple as you said, it could have been done and over within four to five, maybe six months. There is no reason why it's taken a year other than if somebody is not doing what they're supposed to be doing. Whether that's you or whether that's the attorney, I don't know.

Bob: I don't believe it's me although I'm not a lawyer. I can't tell you this that the lawyer says, and I don't even know whether I should mention the county, but the lawyer says that the judge is notorious for moving slowly. We filed the petition for discharge on October 9th and we haven't heard a word since.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Bob, to do a petition for discharge requires demands that you have receipts from your beneficiaries that say that they have received every penny they are entitled to. How could they possibly give you a receipt when they have not gotten all the money that they're entitled to?

Bob: Well, you're confusing me, sir. I know that you're probably telling me stuff that I should have found out on my own that's why I'm calling. My sister and I are both co-personal representatives and we're the only two beneficiaries of the estate.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Well, then that's even more outrageous it's taken this long.