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  • Ryan J. Smollar

What To Do When A Loved One Dies In Florida

Updated: Jun 29

Not only is the death of a loved one is emotionally overwhelming, but it also makes it harder for you to concentrate on settling the estate of the deceased. Since your deceased loved one’s remaining estate is unique, it would be advisable to find an experienced attorney who knows about Florida beneficiary laws to help advise you on what to do.


Below are some steps you will need to take when dealing with probate after the death of a relative or loved one.


Important steps you need to take when a loved one dies


Get Copies of the Death Certificate:


You can order copies from the health department of your county or funeral home. You need this to get life insurance benefits, file estate tax returns, claim benefits, and prove that your loved one has died to anyone whom it may concern. Often, the funeral home can help you with this step.


Find the Original Last Will and Testament:


The Will names the executor who is in charge of filing the Will with the probate court within 10 days of the notice of death. The court will appoint an executor if there is no will. Hopefully, your loved one will have made these matters clear at some point before death; however, these aren’t pleasant subjects and often these matters are left until it’s too late.


Record a Short-Form Death Certificate:


You can have the recording clerk include the short-form death certificate into the chain of title to alert potential property buyers that the property is going through probate.


*Note: A short-form death certificate will not disclose the cause of death.


Find Out if Payable on Death Accounts Exists:


Payable on death designations on bank accounts, investment accounts, or personal property allows you to take over the account after presenting a death certificate if you have been so named or designated.


Find Out if there is a Life Insurance or Retirement Account:


If these accounts have a beneficiary designation and you are the beneficiary, you need to request the claim forms and proceed from there.


Social Security Notification:


If your loved one was receiving benefits from Social Security, that administration will need to be notified within 30 days of the date of death to avoid any potential problems.


Prevent Identity Theft:


Someone can steal your deceased loved one’s identity and use it to do things such as apply for loans or credit cards. Avoid this by keeping your loved one’s financial documents in a safe and ask the estate executor to notify the proper agencies about your loved one’s death.


Steps the Executor of the Estate Needs to Take


The executor of the estate can either be named by the Will or be appointed by the probate court if there is no Will. An executor appointed by the court is often referred to as the personal representative. Once an executor hires a probate attorney, they need to take the following steps to close the decedent’s estate.


Gather and secure financial effects, checkbooks, credit cards, keys or entry codes to properties and lockers, passwords, checkbooks, and social media accounts. Make sure you also take care of the following:

  • Make sure all premises are locked and contents in the house are secured

  • Change the address for the deceased’s mail to help in discovering assets and to ensure all bills are paid

  • Deliver the decedent’s Will to the clerk of court within 10 days of death

  • File the tax returns of the decedent if applicable

  • Ask the probate attorney to help you identify any potential creditors and pay them

  • Identify and inventory all of the decedent’s estate property and submit that information to heirs and the court within 60 days after being appointed as executor


A probate lawyer knowledgeable about Florida beneficiary laws will be able to answer any other questions you may have about other steps you need to take. Probate after the death of a relative is never an easy road to have to navigate, especially in the moments of your grief.


In the event of the loss of a loved one, contact Elder Law - we are here to help, offer comfort and be on your side during this difficult time.


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