Probate and Guardianship

Probate Overview


Probate is a court-supervised process for identifying and gathering the assets of a deceased person (decedent), paying the decedent’s debts, and distributing the decedent’s assets to his or her beneficiaries. The Florida Probate Code is found in Chapters 731 through 735 of the Florida Statutes, and the rules governing Florida probate proceedings are found in the Florida Probate Rules, Part I and Part II (Rules 5.010-5.530).

The most common Probate filing types are:

For more information refer to the 17th Judicial Circuit Court Local Procedures.

Guardianship Overview


A guardianship is generally defined as the relationship between the guardian and a ward. The guardian is the person or entity charged with the duty to take care and manage the property and rights of another person, the ward, who is considered incapable of managing their own affairs. There are several kinds of guardianships. A person wishing to be appointed guardian must employ an attorney admitted to practice in Florida. The attorney will prepare and file the necessary papers requesting the Court to appoint a guardian of the ward. All prospective guardians are required to undergo a criminal/credit investigation. Additional information regarding the investigation and education requirements may be obtained on the 17th Judicial Circuit website.

Fees and Costs


VALID FORMS OF PAYMENTCash, Cashier’s Check, Bank Official Check, Money Order, or Attorney Trust Account check.

NO PERSONAL CHECKS ARE ACCEPTED.

For the opening of any estate that does not include issuance of Letters of Administration or Order of Summary Administration $232.00
Formal Administration, Guardianship, Ancillary, Curatorship or Conservatorship $401.00
Disposition of Personal Property without Administration $232.00
Summary Administration Less than $1000.00 $236.00
Summary Administration $1000.00 or more $346.00
Caveat $42.00
Notice of Trust $42.00
Guardianship of Person and Property $401.00
Guardianship of Person only $236.00
Veteran Guardianship $236.00
Veteran Guardianship of Person and Property $401.00

Frequently Asked Questions


Glossary of Terms


TermDefinition
Administrative Ad LitemA person appointed by the Judiciary to represent and protect the assets of the estate.
AdministratorA person appointed by the Judiciary to handle the affairs of a person who has died with a Will or Without a Will.
AgentOne authorized by a party to act in that party's behalf.
Agent for CaveatorIf Caveator is non-resident of County, an Agent may be named for service.
Also Known As (AKA)An alias name.
As Subrogee ofOne who succeeds to the legal rights or claims of another.
AttorneyAppointed or retained by another to transact business for him or her.
Attorney For CaveatorAn attorney for a person who has filed a caveat.
Attorney For PetitionerAn attorney for a person who has filed a petition.
Attorney For REP/GDNAn attorney representing a representative on an estate case or an attorney representing a guardian on a guardianship case.
BeneficiarySomeone named to receive property or benefits in a Will, Trust, Estate or Insurance Policy
CaveatA legal warning filed by a creditor of the estate of a decedent or other interested party directing the court not to admit a will of the decedent to probate without service of notice on the caveator or their designated agent.
CaveatorA person who enters a Caveat against an Estate.
Co-CounselAn attorney appointed by the Court to protect the assets of the estate or ward.
CodicilAn amendment to a Will
DispositionThe sentencing or other final settlement of a case.
DomicileThe place where a person has his/her permanent legal home.
EstateAn estate consists of personal property (car, household items, and other tangible items), real property and intangible property, such as stock certificates and bank accounts, owned in the individual name of a person at the time of the person's death.
Exempt PropertyThis refer to certain property protect by law from the reach of creditors.
General MagistratesJudicial officers appointed by the Court to hear testimony and make reports which, when approved by the presiding judge, become the decision of the Court.
IndigentA party who is financially unable to pay case filing fees, and other due process costs.
IntestateDying without having a Will.
Intangible AssetsNon-physical items such as stock certificates, bonds, bank accounts, and pension benefits that have value.
JudgeAn elected or appointed public official with authority to hear and decide cases in a court of law.
Letter of Administration/TestamentaryLegal document issued by a court that shows an administrator's/Personal Representative legal right to take control of assets in the deceased person's name.
MediationA alternative dispute resolution where the parties bring their dispute to a neutral third party, who helps them agree on a settlement.
PetitionerA Person who presents a petition.
Personal RepresentativeAn appointed person to handle the affairs of a person who has died.
Pro SeIs a person representing herself/himself without an attorney.
Self-prove WillA Will whose validity does not have to be testified to in court by the witnesses to it, since the witnesses executed an affidavit reflecting proper execution of the Will before to the maker’s death.
Show cause order Court order requiring a person to appear and show why some action should not be taken.
TestateDying with a Will.
TrustLegal document used to manage real or personal property, established by one person for the benefit of another. A third person manages the Trust.
VenueThe place or county where a legal matter arises and must be heard.
WardIf a person is adjudicated to be incapacitated, the court will specify which rights the person is incapable of exercising. The court must then appoint a guardian(s) to exercise those specified rights on behalf of the incapacitated person. When a guardian is appointed, the incapacitated person is then referred to as the ward. A ward can also be a minor child.
WillDocument executed by a person which expresses that person’s wishes as to how property is to be disposed of after the person’s death.
WitnessA person who gives evidence in a case.

Contact Information

  • Central Courthouse
    Judicial Complex, West Building
    (Probate and Guardianship)

  • 201 S.E. 6th Street
    Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
     Directions To This Location

  • 3rd Floor, Room: 03150

  •  954-831-7154  - Probate

  • Monday - Friday
    8:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.

    Excluding Holidays