Florida Probate, Public Record

Florida Probate – Public Record

A question often asked by potential clients is whether a probate case or probate court records can be somehow shielded from being publicly found in court records.  The short answer to this question is no.

A probate court record consists of the court-filed documents, which includes, among other things, a copy of the will, the petition for administration (seeking to admit that will to probate), the order which appoints the personal representative (Florida’s term for “executor”) and the Letters of Administration providing that personal representative to act on behalf of the estate, the probate inventory, and the estate’s accounting.

To access probate records, a search may be available online through the Court’s website.  Moreover, the State of Florida has “Sunshine Laws” which require the maintenance of public records.  That being said, some documents, such as the estate’s inventory, are kept sealed from the public record.  Other documents can be sought to be sealed from the public record by pursuing a determination of their confidentiality from the Court, pursuant to the provisions of Rule 2.420, Fla. R. Gen. Prac. & Jud. Admin., which the Court may grant only in limited circumstances if a compelling reason is shown to the Court.

Should you be in a position needing to learn of a court-filed probate matter and are looking for guidance in navigating the public records, you should consult with a trusted probate lawyer.