What is the Probate Process in Florida?

What is the Probate Process in Florida?

| Jan 10, 2020 | Business Litigation |

When an individual passes away, his or her estate may move into what is known as probate. This is a process supervised by the Florida courts in order to identify and gather a deceased person’s assets, and also involves paying any of the decedent’s debts and distributing any assets to the beneficiaries of the estate.

The decedent’s assets are typically used first to pay for probate proceeding costs, then used to pay debts, and then the remainder is distributed to decedent’s beneficiary.

Contact us to learn more about the probate process in Florida with a Boynton Beach probate and trust attorney.

The Two Main Types of Probate Administration

There are two primary types of probate administration in the state of Florida: formal administration and summary administration. Here we will break down the two to make it easier to understand.

1. Formal Administration: An individual’s estate in terms of probate will apply specifically to probate assets. These are assets that the deceased individual owned in his or her name at the time of death.

Some examples of the most common probate assets include:

  • Real estate
  • Bank accounts
  • Life insurance policies

Some assets and property will automatically pass to others after the decedent’s death without going through the typical probate process These are known as non-probate assets.

The most common examples of non-probate assets include:

  • Trust property
  • Life estate deeds
  • Beneficiary designations
  • Assets and property owned jointly (with a surviving spouse or relative)

2. Summary Administration: This form of probate administration is shorter and only applies to situations when a decedent has been passed on for more than two years, or if the total value of the decedent’s property is under $75,000.

Learn more about the different types of probate and their processes in Florida here.

Is Probate Necessary?

Probate may be necessary to pass on a decedent’s assets to beneficiaries. Unless the will written by the decedent is admitted to the probate process in court, it would be considered ineffective to pass on ownership of assets to the beneficiaries. Without a will, probate is critical for passing ownership of any assets in the estate to the persons eligible to receive them under Florida law.

It is essential to use the probate process to conclude a decedent’s financial affairs after his or her death unless otherwise specified in the decedent’s estate planning strategies. The administration of probate helps to ensure that any creditors are paid as well.

One of the most common reasons that an individual’s estate will go into probate is because he or she passes away without a valid will. Only in situations where there are no heirs does the state of Florida have any rights to probate assets for an estate with no will.

Who is Involved in the Estate Process?

There are many different individuals who you could interact with over the course of managing an estate in probate.
This includes:

  • The circuit court judge
  • The named executor
  • The clerk of the circuit court
  • The attorney who provides legal advice to the personal representative over the course of the process
  • The individuals filing claims about debts
  • The Internal Revenue Service.

The decedent’s will and other documents associated with his or her estate are typically filed first with the clerk of circuit court, usually for the county in which the decedent lived at the time he or she passed away. This also involves a filing fee. After this point the clerk will assign a file number and keeps a record of all papers associated with this estate.

A Circuit Court Judge will be the one who presides over the proceedings. This judge is responsible for determining the validity of the will or evidence associated with the identities of the decedent’s heirs who would receive the estate.

A personal representative is the individual appointed by a judge to be in charge of managing the estate.

The various responsibilities of such an individual include:

  • Gathering and identifying probate assets
  • Paying any valid claims
  • Filing appropriate tax returns
  • Distributing assets to beneficiaries
  • Paying expenses associated with administering the estate
  • Conducting a diligent search to identify potential creditors
  • Closing the probate estate

Start the Process with a Boynton Beach Probate and Trust Attorney

Probate can take several weeks or several months depending on the complicated factors involved in a person’s estate. This is why it is a good idea to make plans ahead of time about how to handle your estate if you wish to save your beneficiaries the struggle of having to wait for the probate process.

Visit here to start the probate process with a Boynton Beach probate and trust attorney.