Has Electronic Filing Made Probate Faster?

Electronic filing has made probate faster in some counties, but not so in others.

Florida probate courts have had electronic  filing for a couple of years now, so has it made the process of getting probate orders  needed for real estate sales, faster or slower?  Since we practice statewide and file in most counties, we can tell you.

In a few counties, it’s speeded things up. In general, the smaller counties do a much quicker job than the larger counties.  Santa Rosa County is, without doubt, the most efficient and speedy when it comes to handling probate files. Other speedy counties include Martin,  Lake and, despite being large, Duval.

In many other counties, whether due to electronic filing or other reasons, what was once slow has now become slower (as in “glacial”).  In one Central Florida county of medium size, getting the initial orders signed has gone from two weeks to four weeks and sometimes  six weeks.

Possibly related  to budget cuts, in some counties the Clerk has directed his or her employees to stop reviewing  the probate papers before sending them to the judge.  The file arrives at the judge’s office with very little scrutiny from the clerks most familiar with probate rules.

That puts the burden on the judge and the judicial assistant to analyze the probate petitions and proposed orders.  This  promises to delay uncontested orders even further.

So when clients,  realtors and closing agents ask us how long it will take to get the probate orders, our first response is “What county?”  The answer makes a world of difference.