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Probate, Guardianship, and Trust Department

The Probate, Guardianship, and Trust Department maintains the files on probate estates, wills, trusts and guardianships for both minors and incapacitated persons. They monitor, file, and store all pending case files and all wills that have been deposited with the Probate Department.

Probate is necessary whenever a deceased person leaves titled assets in their name alone. A party then files a petition for probate which allows distribution of the decedent's assets. Guardianships are filed for both minors and incapacitated persons. However, all Guardianship matters in the State of Florida require an attorney (Rule 5.030). An individual, through their attorney, files for a guardian to be appointed for an adult person when they believe that person is not mentally capable of taking care of himself/herself. When a guardianship petition is filed on an adult, an accompanying petition to determine incapacity is filed in the Mental Health Department.  The Mental Health Department will appoint a committee to evaluate the person and file their report with the court. The exception to this would be a guardian advocate petition.  These petitions are for persons who are developmentally disabled.  With these petitions, there is no requirement for the ward to be examined by a committee.  Therefore, there will be no accompanying Mental Health file.  Guardians can be appointed as guardian of the person only, property only or person and property.

Guardianships are also filed for minors when the minor child has inherited money or property in excess of $15,000.00 from a deceased relative, or received money from a settlement in excess of $15,000.00. In this case a guardian of the property is all that is needed if the minor child's parents are living. If a minor child's parents are deceased or unable to be appointed guardian, he/she may need a guardian of the person and property.

Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration may be filed without the assistance of an attorney and are handled by the Clerks in the Probate Department. These are filed when the amount of the estate does not exceed the amount of the preferred funeral expenses and the expenses of the last sixty days of the last illness. The Clerk assists the public and court by processing the forms, verifying the assets of the decedent and preparing the order allowing for distribution.

Probate also handles Petitions to Appoint a Successor Trustee.  This is a court appointed individual who is responsible for managing another's property. If there is a request for a new trustee, probate screens the request to ensure that all trust beneficiaries have agreed to the new trustee. As in all probate proceedings a hearing MAY be necessary since all probate, guardianship and trust cases are presented to the court for consideration of all orders.

Please select from the following links to find more information concerning the Probate, Guardianship, and Trust Department:

Probate, Guardianship, and Trust Department Fees

Probate Forms
Download Probate Forms

Probate, Guardianship, and Trust Detailed Information
More detailed information concerning the services, forms, and petitions filed by the Probate, Guardianship, and Trust Department of the Clerk's Office

Probate, Guardianship, and Trust FAQs
Some of the most common questions and answers from the Probate, Guardianship, and Trust Department.

Probate, Guardianship, and Trust Contact Information
Need to visit, email, call, or mail the Probate, Guardianship, and Trust Department? You can find that information here.

Link to the 13th Judicial Website for information regarding Advance Directives and Advance Planning