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Let Our Family Help Yours

How does probate work in Florida?

On Behalf of | Dec 7, 2023 | Probate | 0 comments

Probate is the legal process that occurs after a person passes away. It involves the distribution of their assets and settling of debts.

Florida’s structured probate process helps ensure the orderly transfer of the deceased’s estate.

Filing of the petition

The first step in the Florida probate process is filing a petition with the local circuit court. This initiates the formal probate proceedings. It also provides the court with essential information about the deceased person’s estate.

Personal representative appointment

An individual typically names a personal representative in their will. This person oversees the probate process. The court appoints someone to fill this role if the named person cannot serve or if the deceased did not name a representative.

Asset inventory and appraisal

The personal representative identifies, gathers and inventories the deceased person’s assets. Florida distinguishes between probate and nonprobate assets. Nonprobate property can pass directly to joint owners or beneficiaries. Probate property must go through probate.

Special rules apply to homestead property in Florida probate cases. The surviving spouse may have specific rights and protections regarding the family home.

Creditor notification

The personal representative must notify known creditors of the probate proceedings. This gives them an opportunity to file claims against the estate. The estate must pay outstanding debts and obligations in response to valid claims.

Asset distribution

After settling debts and expenses, the personal representative distributes the remaining assets to the beneficiaries as outlined in the deceased person’s will. Without a will, Florida’s intestacy laws take effect. According to a 2021 Gallup poll, only about 46% of Americans have created an estate plan and will.

Closure of the estate

Finally, the personal representative petitions the court to close the probate estate. The court reviews the accounting of the estate’s activities and, if satisfied, issues an order closing the probate proceedings.

Not all estates have to go through probate. Florida has an alternative called summary administration. The personal representative can request this expedited process when the individual died more than two years ago or the estate value falls below a certain amount.