The Nuts & Bolts of Probate in Florida
When someone who owned property in Florida dies, some or all of their assets may be subject to probate proceedings. Simply put, probate is the process of settling the deceased person’s estate, including determining to whom assets should pass.
What Assets are Subject to Probate?
Not all assets need to be administered through Florida probate courts. Assets owned as joint tenants with rights of survivorship with one or more other joint owners will pass outside of probate to the other named joint owner(s). Similarly, retirement accounts, life insurance policies and any other assets for which the deceased person had named beneficiaries will pass to those beneficiaries. Finally, assets inside of a trust will also avoid probate, and will pass according to the terms of the underlying trust agreement. Collectively, these are referred to as “non-probate assets.”
The assets that are generally subject to probate administration include anything the deceased person owned in his or her name alone, without joint owners and without beneficiaries, real estate owned as tenants in common, and assets for which the beneficiary was the deceased person’s estate.
What is Involved in a Probate Proceeding?
The probate process generally involves identifying and safeguarding the deceased person’s assets, identifying beneficiaries and heirs, paying valid debts and claims against the estate, and distributing assets according to what is stated in the deceased person’s will or according to Florida law if there was no will.
Formal Administration vs. Summary Administration
If the value of the deceased person’s estate did not exceed $75,000, exclusive of his or her homestead, or if more than two years have passed since his or her death, the estate may be able to be settled using a streamlined probate process called “summary administration.”
Most other estates that need to go through probate will need to proceed through a formal administration process.
Talk to a Florida Probate Attorney to Learn More
If a loved one has passed away and you believe you may be entitled to an inheritance, talking to a knowledgeable Florida probate attorney is an important starting point. Every situation is different; your attorney will be able to advise you on suggested next steps and can explain whether a probate proceeding will be necessary.
The Judy-Ann Smith Law Firm provides a variety of services, including probate, estate and trust administration. To learn more, call 904-562-1369 or contact the firm online today.