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Can You File a Probate Without a Will?

David’s father passed away recently. He wants to open a probate to distribute his father’s assets.  However, he read online that he needs a will to initiate the probate.  Here’s the problem, he doesn’t have a will.  So now what should he do?

First of all, he needs to be sure that there is no will. Just because you do not quickly find one does not mean there is not one in a safe deposit box or hidden away with other papers.

But, without a will, is a probate still possible?

Yes. Florida has an “intestate succession” law which states, in the absence of a will, who will inherit the estate. The manner of distribution will depend on which relatives of the deceased are alive at the time the person passed away.

Another scenario is when only a copy of a will is found, but the original is lost. What then?

Unfortunately, this is a problem. Probate courts in Florida may only accept a copy of a will after a time-consuming and costly process to “establish a lost will.” The testimony from a disinterested witness to prove the execution and contents of a lost will is needed. If there is an exact copy of the lost original will, the testimony of only one witness to the will execution is required. However, if the copy is an unsigned draft, then the the testimony of two disinterested witnesses are required to prove the execution and content of the document.

In summary

Quit being a cheapskate and get a will

Don’t let the State of Florida decide who gets what when you die

Keep your original will in a safe place

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