We talk a lot about probate in Fl. here on the Weidner Law blog because we feel that it’s something that everyone needs to understand completely before being part of a probate case. So, today we are focusing on the court aspect of probate in Fl and telling you everything that you need to know!
Probate in Fl.: What You Need to Know About the Probate Court Process
When we talk about probate we are referring to the court-supervised process of determining the assets of a deceased person, gathering those assets, paying any debts owed by the deceased, and distributing their remaining assets among their beneficiaries.
Probate in Fl. is governed by the Florida Probate Code which is located in the Florida Statutes chapters 731 through 735. Additionally, all rules that govern the procedure of probate in Fl can be located in the Florida Probate Rules, Part I and Part II (Rules 5.010 – 5.530.)
If you are already confused by the probate process based on what we have mentioned, it’s probably a great time to mention the importance of having a Florida probate attorney to help walk you through understanding the probate process and navigating each step as you go.
There Are Two Types of Administration of Probate in Fl.
When referring to the administration of probate in Fl, there are two types of administration you need to familiarize yourself with – formal administration and summary administration. It is also possible in some instances to go through non-court supervised administration which is referred to as the “Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration.”
Formal Probate Administration in Florida
Formal administration is used most often when a deceased individual has a large estate at the time of their passing unless a revocable trust allows them to avoid the formal probate process.
There are three stages to the formal probate administration process in Florida:
- Opening probate, when documents are filed with the probate court to officially open the case (a probate attorney is the most efficient and reliable way to get this done.) A personal representative or executor will be appointed by the court, and the judge will file the letters of administration to give the representative permission to go ahead with probate.
- Administering the estate, when creditors of the estate are provided with details of the estate and notified of their right to make claims against it. The representative for the estate must also gather together the estate assets at this time and make an inventory of them. In addition, the estate representative must collect any debts that were owed to the deceased. It is during this phase of probate that the representative of the estate must take care of a laundry list of duties (another reason why a probate attorney is recommended!)
- Closing the estate, when creditors deadline for submitting claims against the estate has passed or when all claims are settled. All fees and taxes must have been taken care of by the administrator of the estate and all assets should be ready for disbursement. A petition must then be filed with the probate court and the judge will approve the disbursement of assets.
Summary Probate Administration in Florida
In summary probate administration in Florida, the court is not required to appoint a personal representative for the estate. There are two ways that an estate can qualify for summary probate administration:
- If the deceased individual has been deceased for over two years.
- If the value of the estate does not exceed $75,000.
Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration in Florida
Also known as a “Small Estate Proceeding”, disposition of personal property without administration in Florida is used when the deceased individual did not leave any real estate and their only estate assets are exempt from creditor’s claims or do not exceed the total amount of the final expense. The individual who paid for the deceased person’s final expenses is reimbursed from the estate for the payment of those final expenses. To claim for Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration in Florida, a form with the same name must be filed with the court. A judge will then determine whether the estate is eligible for dispensation rather than another probate process.
What Are “Probate Assets”?
When dealing with any type of probate, it’s important to understand that not all assets of an estate are considered as probate assets. Consulting a probate attorney is the best way to determine which assets in your estate are considered probate assets, but some common examples include:
- An investment account or bank account or investment account solely in the decedent’s name.
- A life insurance policy, individual retirement account, or annuity contract payable to the decedent’s estate.
- Real estate that is titled in the sole name of the decedent, or in the name of the decedent and another individual as tenants in common, is a probate asset (unless it is homestead property).
Are You Looking For an Attorney to Assist with Probate in Fl?
If you’re looking for an attorney to assist you with probate in Florida and you’re close to St. Pete, Weidner Law can help. Just pick up the phone and dial 727-954-8752 to make an appointment to speak with one of our skilled probate attorneys today!