Confused about Florida probate law? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Knowing where to turn and who to trust for guidance about this important topic can be challenging. That’s why we’ve created this blog post to answer some of the most frequently asked questions we receive.
Continue reading as an experienced probate attorney from Denise Jomarron Legal Group answers questions about the different types of probate in Florida, options to avoid probate, and what happens if a person dies (decedent) without a valid Will.
If you have additional questions about probate or need help with your estate plan, contact us to schedule your complimentary 20-minute consultation at (305) 402-4494. We are here to help you and your loved ones through every step of the probate and estate planning process.
What is Probate?
As discussed in more detail in a previous blog, probate is the legal process of settling a decedent’s affairs, including paying debts, distributing assets, and transferring property. The Florida Probate Code governs the probate process in Florida, sets out the rules and procedures for handling the decedent’s estate, and the court supervises this process.
What Are the Types of Probate Proceedings?
There are several different types of probate proceedings in Florida, depending on the size and complexity of the estate. The most common types of probate proceedings include summary administration, formal administration, and ancillary administration.
Summary administration is the simplest and quickest type of probate proceeding typically used if the decedent’s assets do not exceed $75,000.
Formal administration is a more formal and complex type of probate proceeding and is typically used for larger estates that exceed $75,000. This process can take several months to complete, sometimes more than a year, depending on various factors. A key thing about a formal estate is that a personal representative is appointed by the Court whether through the decedent’s Will or by having the majority vote amongst beneficiaries to serve in that role.
Ancillary administration is used when the decedent dies owning property in Florida but was domiciled in another state. In this situation, ancillary proceedings are used to probate the Florida assets, while the primary probate proceedings are handled in the state of the person’s domicile.
Can Estate Planning Help Me Avoid Probate?
An estate does not always have to go through probate under Florida law. In certain circumstances, assets can pass outside of probate. By planning ahead, you can ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and in a way that minimizes the legal and financial burden on your heirs.
There are several ways to avoid probate in Florida through estate planning. Some of them include the following:
- Creating a Living Trust: A living trust (also referred to as a revocable trust) is a legal document that allows you to transfer ownership of your assets to the trust while you are alive. A trustee will manage the assets in the trust and distribute them to your beneficiaries after your death without going through probate.
- Titling Assets as a Joint Ownership with Right of Survivorship: By titling assets as joint ownership with rights of survivorship, the assets will pass directly to the surviving joint owner(s) upon the death of one of the owners, bypassing the probate process.
- Adding a Payable-on-Death (POD) or Transfer-on-Death (TOD) Designation to Bank Accounts, Investments, or Other Assets: These designations allow you to name a beneficiary for these assets, who will receive them directly upon your death, bypassing the probate process.
- Designating a Beneficiary for Life Insurance Policies and Retirement Accounts: By naming a beneficiary for these types of assets, they will be paid directly to the beneficiary upon your death, bypassing the probate process.
Estate planning is not a one-size-fits-all solution and should be tailored to your needs and wishes. Consulting with an estate and probate attorney can help you understand the different options available and help you make informed decisions about your assets and how you want them to be handled after you are gone.
Are There Consequences if an Estate Is Not Probated?
If an estate is not probated and assets are not distributed according to Florida probate law, there can be legal consequences.
- One of the main consequences is that the assets will not be distributed according to the decedent’s wishes or state law. This can lead to disputes among family members or other interested parties over the distribution of assets.
- Another consequence is that any debts or liabilities of the decedent will not be properly paid or settled.
- Additionally, if the assets are not properly distributed and accounted for, it may be difficult or impossible for the beneficiaries to take ownership or transfer the title of those assets. This can cause issues with the ownership and transfer of real property, vehicles, and other assets.
It’s always best to consult with a probate attorney to ensure that the estate is properly administered and assets are distributed according to the law.
What Happens if There is No Will?
If you die without a Will, also known as dying “intestate,” the distribution of your assets will be determined by Florida’s intestacy laws. These laws set out a specific order of priority for distributing your assets among your heirs. The probate court will appoint a personal representative to manage the estate and distribute the assets according to these laws.
Under the laws of intestacy, some family members may not be provided for, and the distribution of assets may not align with your wishes or intentions. Having a valid Will is critical because it ensures that your assets will be distributed according to your wishes upon your death.
Questions About Probate? Call Denise Jomarron Legal Group
Are you searching online for a probate attorney near me? If so, we can help. At Denise Jomarron Legal Group, our probate attorneys help grieving families settle the affairs of their loved ones after their passing and assist them with transferring assets by guiding them through the probate process.
We can also help you design a customized estate plan to ensure protection for your loved ones in case they are incapacitated or pass away.
Call to schedule your complimentary 20-minute consultation with an experienced probate attorney at (305) 402-4494 or complete our online form. We are here to help you and your loved ones through every step of the probate and estate planning process.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
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4300 Biscayne Blvd., Suite 305
Miami, FL 33137-3255