Probate law deals with the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person. When an individual passes away, their assets, property, and debts are collectively referred to as their estate. Probate is the formal court-supervised process of settling the deceased person’s estate, ensuring that their debts are paid, and their assets are distributed to the rightful beneficiaries. Some assets are distributed to heirs by the court (probate assets) and some assets bypass the court process and go directly to your beneficiaries (non-probate assets).

Key Aspects of Probate Law:

  • Probate Process: The probate process begins with the validation of the deceased person’s will, if one exists. If there is no will, the court appoints an administrator to manage the estate according to state laws. During probate, the court oversees the inventory and appraisal of the deceased person’s assets, pays any outstanding debts and taxes, and distributes the remaining assets to the beneficiaries as per the terms of the will or state intestacy laws if there is no will.
  • Executor or Personal Representative: In cases where the deceased person left a will, they typically appoint an executor in the will to carry out the probate process. The executor, also known as a personal representative, is responsible for managing the estate, fulfilling the deceased person’s wishes as stated in the will, and ensuring the probate process runs smoothly.
  • Will Contest and Disputes: Probate law addresses will contests and disputes that may arise when beneficiaries or other interested parties challenge the validity of the will, claiming issues such as undue influence, lack of capacity, or improper execution.
  • Intestate Succession: If the deceased person did not leave a valid will, their estate is distributed according to state intestate succession laws. These laws determine the distribution of assets based on the family relationship of the deceased person, typically prioritizing spouses, children, parents, and other close relatives.
  • Probate Court: The probate process is overseen by a probate court, which has jurisdiction over probate matters in a specific jurisdiction. The court ensures that the estate is administered in compliance with the law and that the interests of all parties involved, including creditors and beneficiaries, are protected.
  • Probate Avoidance: Some estate planning strategies, such as creating living trusts, joint ownership, or beneficiary designations on certain assets, can help individuals avoid the probate process for certain portions of their estate. These methods can streamline asset distribution and minimize costs and delays associated with probate.
It’s important to note that probate laws can vary significantly from one jurisdiction to another, as they are governed by state laws in the United States. Therefore, it is advisable to seek legal counsel from an experienced probate attorney to navigate the probate process and ensure the proper administration of the deceased person’s estate in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.

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A deposit is required to book a mediation or 1-hour consultation appointment.

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Consultation Fees

Consultation Fees

The regular hourly rate for Consultation is $300 but the first 30 minutes are FREE!*

Consultations are *FREE for the first 30-min and $300/hour after.

Deposit Information

  • Consultations are *FREE for the first 30-min and $300/hour after.
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Mediation Fees

Mediation Fees

The regular hourly rate for Mediation is $250 for the first two hours and then $250/hour thereafter with a 2-hour minimum. This rate shall apply to the mediator’s time involved in preparation, conferences, writing memoranda, consulting with attorneys, responding to requests for release of information or any other time including travel spent on our behalf.

For families of modest means, Sandi offers reduced rates equivalent to Hillsborough County Mediation and Diversion Services based on verified combined family income as stated below:

  • $120 for the first two hours then $120/hr. for combined incomes less than $50,000 per year.
  • $200 for the first two hours then $200/hr. for combined incomes between $50,000-$100,000 per year.
  • Reduced rates for families with combined income greater than $100,000 per year and/or significant assets will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Deposit Information

  • The deposit to book is only $120 for all mediations.
  • If needing to cancel or reschedule, clients must give at least 24 hours notice.
  • The deposit is nonrefundable if the client does not give more than 24 hours notice.
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