How Has Coronavirus Impacted the Probate Process in Florida?

How Has Coronavirus Impacted the Probate Process in Florida?

The impact of COVID-19 has been evident in just about every area of business, including the legal world. The impact has been particularly severe on the probate court here in Florida.

As of mid-November, there had been more than 870,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Florida and nearly 18,000 deaths, with the hardest-hit areas being the large population centers (Orlando, Miami, Jacksonville, Tampa, St. Petersburg).

Meanwhile, there has been a significant slowdown in the probate courts, for a couple main reasons:

  • Larger numbers of people than usual have been dying, due to the pandemic

  • The necessary shutdown of courts and in-person hearings has led to delays in the probate process

This means there now is an ever-increasing number of probate cases to handle, but those cases are taking longer to probate. That means the backlog is growing and the burden on the court system becoming heavier. What makes matters more complex is that Florida’s probate regulations have specific timelines in which certain actions must be taken, or else rights could be waived.

The good news is that in the great majority of probate cases it is not necessary for a person to appear physically in court, particularly in non-adversarial. Some hearings and meetings are also taking place virtually.

The court system is still realigning itself to function efficiently in a pandemic-stricken society, so hopefully the burden on probate courts will ease a bit in the coming months. But for now, expect delays if you are probating an estate.

For legal guidance during the probate process, contact an experienced Tampa probate lawyer at BaumannKangas Estate Law.