FL probate laws are what govern the probate process in the state of Florida including which assets go through probate and which assets don’t go through probate. Today we’re going to take a close look at which assets go where according to Florida law.

FL Probate Laws: Probate Vs. Non Probate Assets

FL probate laws regulate each aspect of the probate process including which estate assets go through the probate process and which don’t. Today we’re going to take a look at these two categories and what items fit into each category.

Probate Assets

Probate assets are items that were owned by the deceased that are not jointly owned and that do not have a designated beneficiary. These items go through the probate process and so they are called “probate” assets.

Probate assets must be owned specifically by the deceased and they must not be left to a specific beneficiary.

Probate assets may not be owned in a joint ownership – for example, a home co-owned by siblings – with rights of survivorship.

Probate assets are distributed through the probate court. These assets are distributed according to the last will and testament of the deceased assuming that the last will and testament is a valid document and has not been contested.

If the deceased left no Last Will and Testament, probate assets are distributed according to state law.

When someone dies without a valid last will and testament we say that they died intestate. In this situation, the property of the estate is distributed to the next of kin according to state law. In Florida, the pattern of distribution is as follows:

 

If you die with: here’s what happens:
  • children but no spouse
  • children inherit everything
  • spouse but no descendants
  • spouse inherits everything
  • spouse and descendants from you and that spouse, and the spouse has no other descendants
  • spouse inherits everything
  • spouse and descendants from you and that spouse, and the spouse has descendants from another relationship
  • spouse inherits 1/2 of your intestate property
  • your descendants inherit 1/2 of your intestate property
  • spouse and descendants from you and someone other than that spouse
  • spouse inherits 1/2 of your intestate property
  • your descendants inherit 1/2 of your intestate property
  • parents but no spouse or descendants
  • parents inherit everything
  • siblings but no spouse, descendants, or parents
  • siblings inherit everything

[Source]

Non Probate Assets

Non probate assets are items that do not go through the probate process.

Non probate assets include:

  • Assets that have a joint owner.
  • Assets that have designated beneficiaries – this includes transfer upon death and payable upon death designations.
  • Assets owned by a trust or assets that designate a trust as a beneficiary.

Assets that are jointly owned pass to the joint owner by rights of survivorship. Jointly owned property comes with rights of survivorship. If there are no rights of survivorship then the property is said to be owned as tenants in common and not owned jointly.

Assets that have designated beneficiaries are passed directly to the designated beneficiary after the deceased passes away.

Assets that are designated as payable upon death or transfer upon death, are also passed on to the designated beneficiary as designated when the payable upon death and transfer upon death account was established.

Assets that are owned by a trust or assets that list a trust as a beneficiary are already property of that trust and so they may not go through the probate process.

Non probate assets do not have to be overseen by the probate court, they can be claimed directly by the beneficiary without any intervention by the court.

Consider Probate and Non Probate Assets When Making Your Final Estate Arrangements

When working with your estate planning attorney, it’s important to keep the idea of probate and non-probate assets in mind. Your attorney can help you to understand probate and non-probate assets in more detail.

Your attorney can also help you to understand the idea of trusts and help you to determine whether it is in your best interest to set up a trust.

Have Questions About FL Probate Laws?

If you have questions about FL probate laws or are looking for a reputable and experienced Florida probate attorney, Weidner Law can help. To make an appointment with attorney Weidner for your initial consultation, just call our office at 727-954-8752!

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