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P. Simmons
P. Simmons, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 26302
Experience:  12+ yrs. of experience including estate law.
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please help me. My aunt died 2 years ago with no will. we

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please help me. My aunt died 2 years ago with no will. we just found out about it. She owned a small condo in Lehigh acres, florida. I am willing to cover her costs and liens (totaling 13,000 including court fees). The condo is worth 18-20,000. I want to fix it and move in immediately. The probate lawyer for the homeowners association says I have to pay him 3000 dollars and wait 6 months!? Is this true? who can I talk to?
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 9 months ago.
Hi, My name is Philip. I am an attorney with over 16 years experience. Hopefully I can help you with your legal question.

Sorry...not sure I understand your question.

If your aunt died without a will in FL, her estate would typically go to her spouse (if she left one), or her children or grandchildren (again, if she had them)

If she had no spouse and not children then the next step would be to look to more distant relations.

So it is certainly possible that you are an heir to the estate, but again, only if there are no closer relations.

If the condo association is doing probate, that sounds like there are no other relations...is that the case?


Customer: replied 9 months ago.

no spouse no children. I am it and living in new York city ready to go to florida.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.

Hi. are you still working on it? I sent you a 2nd question earlier. is there a possibility of expediting this summary administration?

Expert:  P. Simmons replied 9 months ago.
Thank you

If you are the sole heir of the estate, then you are entitled to any proceeds from the estate.

But it is important to understand how the probate process works.

When a person dies without a will and leaves assets (money/property/etc) the laws of the state where they lived determines who the "heirs" are (the persons who will inherit from the estate). Under FL law, if a person has no spouse, no living parents and no living children or grandchildren, the next step out would be nieces and nephews. Sounds like that is you.

So what you describe, it sounds like you are an heir.

So if there are assets in the estate? You are entitled to them.

But this leads to the next step in this process...how the estate is determined

The probate process involves determining all the assets of the estate as well as the liabilities of the estate. The liabilities of the estate are then paid, and the remaining assets are distributed to the heirs of the estate.

You are entitled to any proceeds of the estate (after debts are paid).


So, if the place is worth $20K? And the liabilities of the estate are $13K? Then in theory you would be entitled to the difference...that is, if the home sells for $20K, they use $13K to pay the bills and you get the remaining money.

So...you say

The probate lawyer for the homeowners association says I have to pay him 3000 dollars and wait 6 months!?

That MAY be true. That is, it is appropriate for a probate lawyer to charge his or her fees. $3K for probate of an estate sounds typical.

And 6 months to probate? That also sounds reasonable. 3-9 months is typical for a probate...but they can take longer.

The question I would have is, what is the $3K for? Is it to pay for the lawyers fees? And you get the home (after you pay off the remaining debt (the $13K in liens))? Then that sounds reasonable. In fact, that is what I would expect to happen. You are going to need to pay the liens before you can take clear title to the property.

OR you can do nothing. The probate lawyer will sell the property at auction, will pay the liens, take his fee, and mail you a check for any balance remaining.

If you do not believe this lawyer is being honest, the best thing you can do from NY is hire an attorney in FL (one from the same county where the condo is located) and have them file a motion with the court to determine status of the probate. You can find an attorney here

Link text





Customer: replied 9 months ago.

nice job. clearly explained but this part - summary administration (also I believe florida statues say for property under 40000 the fee is 1500 dollars and gets rated upwards). I am the sole nephew. the liens are for the condo association atty, taxes, water etc. nothing had been paid the last year and a half. they come out to 13000 which I am willing to pay but I also want to move in immediately. How can I expedite this?

Expert:  P. Simmons replied 9 months ago.
You have to get through probate. The fastest way to do that is with an attorney (in Florida). An attorney can help you press this through the process. But probate is NOT a fast process. At all. Again, typically the process is 3-9 months start to finish.

I do not know where you are in the process. If you were to start from scratch, today, with a lawyer, I would anticipate it would take 6 months.

that may be why the attorney is telling you it will take that amount.

If the probate is near complete? Then I would not expect it to take another 6 months.

SO really it depends on where the probate is at currently (what stage in the probate process they are)

Customer: replied 9 months ago.

as I stated earlier we just found out about it and just visited the place. It needs work but we can do that. The probate lawyers says I cannot move in till 6 months. Is there not a way I can pay him and move in? The condo association already let me have the keys....

Expert:  P. Simmons replied 9 months ago.
Ahh...thank you

Now I understand.

Once probate completes title will transfer.

At that point you become the owner.

Not before.

SO legally you can not demand to occupy until probate is complete.

Now...the HOA could certainly waive this.

But they are not required to legally

So you may want to negotiate with the HOA or the HOA lawyer to see if you can work through something. Again, they can allow you to move in...but they are not required to do so.

P. Simmons, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 26302
Experience: 12+ yrs. of experience including estate law.
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