The Law Firm Of Myrna Serrano Setty, P.A
The Law Firm Of Myrna Serrano Setty, P.A

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Florida Probate FAQs: Everything You Deserve To Know Before You Die

Florida Probate FAQs: Everything You Deserve To Know Before You Die Lawyer, Lutz CityThey say two things are inevitable, death and taxes, and in the case of Florida’s probate process the two are often combined. Probate is the set of legal procedures your loved ones will have to go through after you pass on in order to gather and distribute your financial assets and wealth. This article covers the basic information everyone needs to know, and answers to the most common questions about the probate process in Florida, including:

  • What probate is and the purpose it serves in Florida law.
  • The key steps, timing, and role of legal representatives in the probate process.
  • The costs and regulations limiting probate, including consequences of failing to write a will.

What Is The Purpose Of The Probate Process In Florida?

The probate process in Florida allows for the administration of the assets and property of someone after they pass away. This person is usually referred to as the decedent, and without probate or proper estate planning, it would be impossible for their assets or wealth to be distributed to beneficiaries…or creditors.

Indeed, when it comes to administration through the probate process in Florida, if there are creditors that need to be paid, they are paid as part of the probate process. Additionally, there is an accounting done during probate to let the court and beneficiaries know what assets are available, before taking steps to ensure these assets can either be liquidated or distributed. This allows any beneficiaries of the decedent to obtain their inheritance.

What Assets Are Subject To Probate In Florida? Are There Any Exceptions?

As a general rule, assets are subject to probate unless they have another legal way of getting to the person who is supposed to inherit them. For example, if someone has life insurance, a retirement account, or a bank account that does not have a co-owner or a death beneficiary assigned, those assets must pass through the probate process in Florida.

Real estate property also frequently has to pass through probate, though there are virtually no assets that cannot bypass probate with the proper estate planning strategies and techniques.

What Is The Role Of A Personal Representative In The Florida Probate Process?

A personal representative is someone chosen or appointed to serve the best interest of the decedent and their legacy. The personal representative will work with the attorney in order to properly administer the probate case and ensure that:

  • the beneficiaries are identified and located.
  • the terms of the will, if there is one, are followed,
  • creditors or other interested parties are notified about the case.

How Long Does The Probate Process Typically Take In Florida?

In Florida, the probate process will generally take between four and nine months. This can be shortened for decedents with virtually no assets or very limited and simple-to-handle ones (see the section below about simplified procedures). It can also take far longer if there are significant contentions, disputes, or complicated assets to deal with.

What Are The Key Steps Involved In The Florida Probate Process?

The main steps involved in the Florida probate process are all required to ensure a smooth distribution of a decedent’s affairs and assets. These steps are…

  1. Locating and reviewing the will if there is one.
  2. Identifying the beneficiaries or heirs of the deceased.
  3. Filing the initial petitions and paperwork to open the probate case.
  4. Providing an inventory to the court about the assets involved.
  5. Providing accounting and notices to beneficiaries.
  6. Notifying creditors through publication in the newspaper and through direct correspondence about the probate case.
  7. Paying creditor claims
  8. Distributing property or assets to the beneficiaries,
  9. Filing a petition for discharge in the case.

Once all the steps have been thoroughly completed, the probate case is closed, and no further action will be required.

Are There Any Simplified Probate Procedures Available In Florida For Smaller Estates?

Florida does have some simplified probate procedures for smaller estates to save time and avoid costs. The two available options are a procedure for the disposition of property without administration and a summary administration.

Both are available to particularly low-value estates, as well as estates of those who have been deceased for two years or more. Disposition without administration is the faster and cheaper of the two (some medical and funeral expenses can even be recovered) but requires there to be no real property involved. Summary Administration, on the other hand, has less stringent requirements but does still require individuals and assets to go through probate, simply an accelerated version of it.

What Are The Costs Associated With The Probate Process In Florida?

As a general rule, the costs you should expect in probate are the case filing fees, postage publication costs, and any attorney’s fees. While it is not technically a cost, losing assets or value to creditors or taxation because they had to go through probate can be seen as a loss, and some can be avoided with effective estate planning.

Are There Any Specific Laws Or Regulations In Florida That Impact The Probate Process?

There are a number of laws in Florida that impact the probate process, such as the Florida probate code and laws relating to intestacy (see dying without a will below). There are also aspects of other laws, such as real estate or homestead laws in Florida which can impact probate. These are just some examples of the many laws or regulations that can potentially change, interfere, or come up during probate.

What Happens If Someone Passes Away Without A Valid Will In Florida?

In Florida, if someone passes away without a valid will, they’re considered to have passed away intestate. There is a set of default rules that apply under Florida law that determine who has a right to inherit from the person who passed away which comes into play automatically when someone passes away intestate.

Understanding those laws, as well as the procedures and processes of any probate proceeding, is the purview of probate and estate planning attorneys. You do not have to go through them alone.

For more information about The Probate Process in Florida, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (813) 686-7175 today.

Myrna Serrano Setty, Esq.

Call Now to Schedule Your
Free 15 Minute Discovery Call
(813) 686-7175