There are more than a few Florida probate rules that you need to know when faced with the process of probate. Are you the administrator of an estate or perhaps you’re helping an elderly family member to go through the probate process after their loss of a spouse? Whatever your role, if you are playing any part in the probate process, here are a few things that you need to know…

Florida Probate Rules You Should Know

In the Absence of a Will

If there is no will at the time of an individual’s death, the probate court proceeding is necessary to transfer ownership of the deceased person’s probate assets to their beneficiaries. This is also the case if the will of the deceased has been shown not to meet the necessary criteria for a valid last will and testament in the State of Florida.

The Cost of Probate

The cost of probate proceedings is covered by the assets of the deceased first and foremost. Following this, assets may then be used to pay for the final expenses of the deceased, after this, assets are used to pay off any remaining debts owed by the deceased and finally, any remaining assets are distributed among the beneficiaries of the deceased.

Not All Assets in the State of Florida Are Subject to Probate

In the state of Florida, not all assets are subject to probate, some assets automatically transfer at the time of an individual’s death. Some of the assets that fall into this category include:

  • Joint tenancy where the living joint tenant automatically gets the ownership of the entire property transferred into their name at the time of the death of the other tenant.
  • Beneficiary designations such as life insurance policies which have a designated beneficiary named for the proceeds of the policy.
  • Payable or transferable upon death accounts which name a beneficiary for the account in the event of the death of the account holder.
  • Assets that are held in a living trust.

Not All Estates Have to Go Through Probate

In the state of Florida, not all estates have to go through the probate process. If an estate is very small without any real property, it may qualify for “disposition without administration”. This is designed to save time and costs because the probate process is a lengthy and costly process and when there is little to be dispensed, probate becomes a drain rather than a benefit.

Informal Probate

There are multiple types of probate in the state of Florida. Informal probate is a process where there are no creditors to pay and all beneficiaries named in the will or assumed get along with each other. Informal probate is essentially what happens when there are no complications expected during the probate process. Informal probate is designed to make things move more quickly while remaining fair.

Unsupervised Formal Probate

A formal probate process is a court proceeding which is presided over by a judge who must approve certain actions performed by the personal representative who is in charge of representing the estate and last wishes of the deceased.

Supervised Formal Probate

Supervised formal probate is a probate process in which the Florida court must step in and supervise all aspects of the probate process. Under supervised formal probate hearings, all distribution of assets must be overseen and approved by the court.

Missing Heirs

In the state of Florida, if an heir is missing at the time of probate, under the formal probate administration, the personal representative of the deceased may take that heir’s portion of the assets and deposit them into the registry of the court after the assets have been sold.

A Power of Attorney

After the death of a loved one, the holder of the deceased’s power of attorney is no longer able to utilize that power of attorney because at the moment of death, the POA becomes obsolete.

The Probate Deadline

In the state of Florida, it is never too late to open a probate, however, in some occasions, there are practical limitations that apply. These limitations under Florida probate rules can be explained to you by an experienced probate attorney like Matt Weidner at Weidner Law.

Need A Probate Attorney to Help You to Make Sense of Florida Probate Rules?

If you’re in the St. Petersburg, Florida area and are looking for a Florida probate attorney who can help you to make sense of Florida probate rules, Weidner Law can help. To see how we can help you, just pick up the phone and give us a call at 727-954-8752 or send us a message through our online contact form located here.

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