Probate Administration

Based in Clearwater, Florida, the law firm of John M. Sakellarides, P.A. assists clients with the Florida probate administration process in the Tampa Bay area. The firm provides probate legal services for estates of all sizes and complexity in Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, and Pasco County.

Experience and Approach

John M. Sakellarides focuses his law practice on probate administration, estate planning, and tax law. With more than 25 years of practice experience, John provides superior quality legal services and exceptional client service. He is a tax lawyer, having earned his Master of Laws in Taxation (LL.M.) degree at the University of Florida. His credentials and many years of experience set him apart from other attorneys who practice in the same areas.

John’s tax knowledge, skill, and experience are a significant benefit to clients who count on him for probate administration services. His distinguished reputation in the legal profession and community is demonstrated by the fact that most of his clients come to him as the result of referrals from other clients and professionals.

In his probate administration practice, John assists executors, administrators, personal representatives, and beneficiaries with estates of all sizes and types, from modest estates with a limited amount of property to substantial estates with complex assets. Regardless of the nature of the estate, he provides personalized service to every client, with an emphasis on being always accessible and responsive to the client’s concerns and questions. John’s goal is to provide high-quality dependable and straightforward legal representation. He also focuses on ensuring the predictability of legal fees by offering services on a flat fee basis whenever possible.

John does not charge for the first consultation with a prospective client. A meeting may be scheduled for an in-person discussion at the firm’s Clearwater office or through a virtual platform like Zoom or FaceTime.

Florida Probate Administration

Florida probate administration is a statutory process for distributing estate property to the heirs or beneficiaries of a deceased person either under a will or according to Florida law. The process is governed by state laws and court rules. Probate is usually filed in the county where the deceased person resided.

There are two types of court-supervised probate administration under Florida law, Formal Administration and Summary Administration. There is also a non-court supervised administration proceeding called Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration, which is available only in limited circumstances.

The probate process required for a specific estate is determined primarily by the value of the deceased person’s probate assets and the circumstances of the estate. Talking with an experienced Florida probate attorney is the best way to determine with certainty which assets of a deceased person are subject to probate, the value of those assets for probate purposes, and the type of probate administration required by Florida law.

A personal representative appointed by the court has legal responsibility for probate administration in a Formal Administration. The personal representative may be an executor designated in a valid will or, if there is not a valid will, a person eligible under Florida law to serve in the position. A personal representative is not required in a Summary Administration.

The personal representative of an estate should retain a qualified attorney to assist in administration of a probate estate and ensure that all laws, rules, and legal requirements are satisfied during administration of the estate. Many legal issues can arise during estate administration. A probate lawyer has the necessary knowledge and skills to address any legal issues that arise, in addition to advising the personal representative on fulfilling their legal duties under Florida law.

Florida Formal Administration Process

Formal Administration is the most common type of probate proceeding in Florida. It is required for an estate if the death occurred less than two years ago and the value of probate property exceeds $75,000.

A circuit court judge supervises the Formal Administration process. The process is complex and involves many steps, procedures, and filings. The first step is appointment of the personal representative for the estate, which is accomplished by issuance of Letters of Administration to the personal representative. The Letters are evidence of the personal representative’s authority to administer the estate.

The personal representative, with assistance from a probate lawyer, then proceeds with the orderly process of administering probate, which includes:

  • Identifying, gathering, and safeguarding the decedent’s assets
  • Publishing and serving notices required by the law and rules
  • Paying claims and expenses of the estate and defending against invalid claims
  • Paying taxes and filing tax returns
  • Paying expenses of administering the probate estate
  • Paying statutory amounts to the decedent’s surviving spouse or family
  • Distributing probate assets to beneficiaries
  • Closing the estate

The personal representative is held to high legal standards in managing administration of the estate and may be liable to beneficiaries for harm suffered as the result of mismanagement. This potential liability is an important reason for the personal representative to trust in an experienced probate lawyer for all matters relating to probate administration.

Summary Administration and Disposition Without Administration

Summary Administration is available if a person died more than two years ago or the value of the probate property is less than $75,000. A Summary Administration may save time and money. However, at the personal representative's election, a small estate can be probated through Formal Administration, which may be beneficial if there are numerous or unknown creditors, or court supervision of distribution is desired. Seeking guidance from a probate lawyer is the best approach for determining whether an estate qualifies for Summary Administration and whether the process should be used.

Disposition Without Administration allows a person who paid the decedent’s final expenses to be reimbursed from the decedent’s assets. The process is only available if no real estate was left by the decedent and either the decedent's assets do not exceed the amount to be reimbursed, or the decedent's personal property is exempt from the claims of creditors.

Schedule a Free Consultation about Florida Probate Administration

If you wish to talk with John M. Sakellarides about probate administration of an estate in the Tampa Bay area, please call (727) 785-1228 or use the online contact form to schedule a consultation. Your initial consultation is always free of charge and without obligation. Consultations may be conducted in person at the firm’s Clearwater office or virtually through platforms such as Zoom or FaceTime.