Probate Of Estates

Probate is a legal process through which the assets of a deceased person are properly distributed to the heirs or beneficiaries under a will, or if there is no will, according to Florida law. The Court oversees the estate to make sure debts are paid and proper distribution is made.
  • Information on viewing Wills and other probate documents online.
  • Estate Bond Schedule
  • Probate forms
  • Probate Recordable Instruments List

    Last Will and Testament:
    A will is a document executed by a person which disposes of his/her property after his/her death. It generally names a personal representative to administer the estate.

    When to file a Will:
    The custodian of the original Last Will and Testament of a deceased person must deposit the will with the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the county where the decedent resided, within ten (10) days after receiving information that the person is deceased.

    The custodian must supply the person's date of death or the person's social security number to the Clerk upon deposit of the will.

    You do not need an attorney to file the will with the Clerk of the Circuit Court. However, you may want to consult with an attorney before filing the will, so that he or she may determine whether Probate proceedings will be necessary.

    If the deceased person left no Will:
    If there is no will, and there are assets to be probated, the estate of the deceased person must be distributed in accordance with Florida Probate law.

    If there is a will filed but no personal representative has been named:
    It may be necessary for an attorney to petition the Court on behalf of heirs or beneficiaries, or other interested parties, to appoint a personal representative to administer the estate.

    Types of Probate Proceedings:

    There are 3 types of estate proceedings. You may wish to seek legal advice before deciding which type of proceeding is appropriate.

    1. Formal Administration:

    May be filed when there are assets exceeding $75,000, and/or when it is necessary to appoint a representative to act on behalf of the estate. At the time of appointment, Letters of Administration are issued to the personal representative by the Court giving him or her the authority to complete the administration of the estate. The Court oversees the administration of the estate to ensure the decedentís debts are paid and that correct distribution to the heirs and/or beneficiaries.

    Formal administration proceedings are initiated by filing a petition requesting the appointment of a personal representative. The attorney for the personal representative prepares and files the petition and other required documents. The appointed personal representative is then responsible for the estate, paying all debts of the decedent and distributing the balance of the estate to the rightful beneficiaries.

    2. Summary Administration:

    May be filed when the value of the entire estate subject to administration does not exceed $75,000.
    (Summary Administration does not require the appointment of a personal representative).

    A Petition for Summary Administration can be filed by any beneficiary or nominated personal representative in the decedentís will, or by an attorney representing that petitioner(s). If the petitioner chooses to proceed without an attorney, he may research the requirements and find necessary forms for filing a Summary Administration at the *law library.

    3. Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration:

    May be filed to request release of the deceased's solely owned assets to reimburse the person who paid the final expenses; funeral bills, medical bills for the last 60 days, etc. This procedure may be accomplished with the filing of an informal petition. The Disposition form and instructions are available from the Clerk of the Circuit Court in Probate Court Records and online.

    When filing a Disposition of Personal Property without Administration, the following documentation should be submitted:

    • If the decedent has a will, it must be filed with the Clerk of the Circuit Court within ten days of the notice of death.
    • Itemized funeral bill, and receipt for payment. (If funeral bill is unpaid, the court order will direct payment made to the funeral home).
    • Paid receipts for any medical expenses incurred sixty (60) days prior to death.
    • Death certificate.
    • Statement regarding the type of asset to be released.
    • Identification of the person filing.
    • Filing fee as set by Florida Statute.
    • Clerk's fee for preparing each Order of Disposition.
    • Payment for requested certified copies of the Order of Disposition when signed by the Court.
    After all the required documents have been filed, the Court will enter an Order either allowing or disallowing the release of the assets to the requesting party. The prepaid certified copy of the original order will be mailed to the petitioner for submission to the asset holder.

    Refer to the current Schedule of Service Charges, available in any Clerk's Office or online, for the current filing fee.

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    Information is available about the following areas of the Probate Division:

    Viewing Wills or other Probate documents on the internet.

    At this time, there is no internet access available to the public for viewing imaged documents.

    Images of probate court documents are available for viewing at any of the Clerkís locations on the public view terminals. Our staff will be happy to demonstrate if you should need assistance.

    The paper documents filed in the probate court files are available for viewing at the 315 Court Street, Clearwater location. If you would like to view a file, it is advisable to call ahead to be sure the file is available, and has not been sent to the court or to another office.

    You may also order, by telephone or email, copies of any document not sealed by Florida Statute, Probate Rule, Administrative Order or Court Order. The copies will be mailed to you upon receipt of the service fee of $1.00 per page. Please include a self addressed, postage paid envelope with your payment.

    For more information contact the Probate Office at (727) 464-3321 or email to probate@pinellascounty.org

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    PROBATE COURT: Estate Bond Schedule

    Florida law gives the Court full latitude and discretion to set the estate bonds and delineates in Section 733.403(1) many factors that must be considered when setting these bonds. The following chart is prepared as an aid for the Court in setting bonds based upon an estate's gross value and other factors of that statute.
    Estate Gross Value:  Bond:
    $          0 -   75,000* $ 18,000
    $  75,001 -   100,000 $ 25,000
    $  100,001 -   175,000 $ 35,000
    $  175,001 - 250,000 $ 50,000
    $250,001 - 500,000 $ 75,000
    $500,001 - unlimited $ 100,000 minimum**

    *Every wrongful death estate will have a minimum bond of $18,000.
    **Do multipliers of $100,000 for each $500,000 of estate (i.e. $1,100,000 estate calls for bond of $225,000).

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    315 Court Street, Room 106
    Clearwater, FL 33756
    (727) 464-3321

    29582 U.S. 19 North
    Clearwater, FL 33761
    (727) 464-3321

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    St. Petersburg, FL 33701
    (727) 464-7000

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