Florida Probate Question of the Day:
Do I have to immediately share copies of the Will with the family?
No, at least not directly.
State law requires that you “deposit the Will for safekeeping” with the clerk of courts within 10 days of learning that the decedent has died.
Florida Statutes say:
Here’s the typical policy of any probate court describing the applicable Florida Statute:
Pursuant to Florida Statute 732.901, the original Last Will and Testament of a deceased person must be deposited with the Clerk of the Circuit Court having venue of the estate of the decedent within 10 days after receiving information that the testator (a person who dies leaving a will) is dead. The statute also states that the custodian of the will must supply the clerk with the date of death or social security number of the testator upon deposit. Our office also requires that a death certificate be filed with the original will. Please be advised that there is no charge or filing fee to deposit a will with our office.
(credit: Brevard County Clerk of Courts)
You should deposit the Will with the clerk. It will then become public record and anyone (including the family) may secure a copy for a small fee.
1. The mere act of depositing the Will for safekeeping does not actually begin a probate proceeding.
2. If you refuse to deposit the Will within the time prescribed, any interested party can open the probate and compel you to do so by petitioning the court.
3. Once a probate is opened, it is exposed to the potential claims of creditors.
4. If the Will has not been “admitted to probate” by court order in an actual probate proceeding, then you are NOT the personal representative/executor and you have no authority to act on any assets of the estate yet.
Probate can be affordable and efficient if all parties act cooperatively.