The Florida Bar - Board Certified
The Florida Bar - Family Law Section
The Florida Bar


Last Will and Testament Probate is process of administering the estate of a deceased person through the court. A probate is required if the deceased person passed away with assets titled in his or her individual name with no beneficiary designation. Upon the death of the person, such assets become the assets of the decedent’s probate estate. Some assets are exempt from the claims of the decedent’s creditors while others are not. If the value of the non-exempt assets of the probate estate exceeds $75,000.00, and it has been less than two years since the death of the decedent, a formal administration is required. If the value of the non-exempt assets of the probate estate is less than $75,000.00, or if more than two years has passed since the decedent’s death, a summary administration can be filed.

A formal administration is more costly and takes longer to administer because there are more requirements such as the publication of a notice to creditors followed by a ninety-day period for creditors to file claims. A summary administration is less-expensive and takes less time, but there are certain circumstances where a formal administration may be more appropriate even when a summary administration is available. Melissa K. Hancock is a probate attorney based in Ocala who can assist you with determining if a probate is necessary, and if so, whether a formal administration or summary administration is appropriate.

The person responsible for administering the estate in a formal administration is called a “personal representative” in Florida. The personal representative may be named in the decedent’s will, or if there was no will, the personal representative is determined by Florida statute.

A personal representative is required to be represented by an attorney in Florida. After being formally appointed by the court, the personal representative gathers the assets of the estate, manages those assets while the estate is pending, pays the claims and expenses of the estate from the assets of the estate, and finally distributes the remaining assets of the estate to the beneficiaries.

In many cases, the decedent may have resided in Florida or owned property in Florida at the time of death, but the personal representative resides in another state. Melissa K. Hancock can represent you as personal representative whether you reside in Florida or in another state. In most cases, you will not even have to come to Florida during the process if you reside in another state. Melissa K. Hancock will prepare all of the probate documents and walk you through the administration of the estate, step by step.

Client Reviews
"My adoption was finalized this year and even though our client relationship is over Melissa and her team will always hold a special place in our lives. The expertise that Melissa and her team have show in their work. They are efficient, compassionate, respectful, and have integrity in what they do. I never left the office, ended a phone call, or read an email where I was left with an unclear answer or direction. Melissa Hancock and her team are top notch." Lavonne
"Ms. Hancock is an amazing attorney. She puts a lot of effort and pride into her work and I feel as though she honestly cares about my case, and my child's well-being. I would highly recommend her for any custody issues." Lizzie
"Melissa Hancock was a true meaning of a GAL. In my own words a guardian angel. I can not thank her enough for seeing the truth and making the best possible decision for my daugher and her future. I would recommend her for anyone. She saw the truth in my case and allowed it to be set free. Thank you Mrs Hancock." Stacey