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Making Sense of the Florida Probate Process

Making Sense of the Florida Probate Process

Probate is the court-supervised process of collecting all the assets of a recently deceased person, paying off their debts and the costs of the probate process, and then distributing the estate assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries.

Florida’s specific probate rules are found in the Florida Statutes, Chapters 731 through 735, as well as the Florida Probate Rules, Part I and Part II (Rules 5.010-5.530). Under these rules, there are two types of probate administration: summary administration and formal administration.

Summary administration applies only to small estates with less than $75,000 in non-exempt assets or when more than two years have passed since the individual’s death. Formal administration is more common.

Is probate really necessary?

Probate is the process by which the assets of a decedent are passed down to the beneficiaries. Under Florida law, the last will and testament must be admitted to the probate court to allow asset distribution via that will.

Probate also helps wrap up all the decedent’s remaining financial affairs, fulfilling all financial obligations and repaying any creditors.

What are considered probate assets?

Probate administration applies only to those assets that are subject to probate. Assets subject to probate include those that were owned solely in the decedent’s name when they died or that were owned by the decedent and one or more co-owners without provisions for succession upon death.

In most cases, any property included in a will is subject to probate. But many types of trusts provide the benefit of bypassing the probate process. The assets contained in these trusts are not considered probate assets.

For further information and guidance on the probate process in Florida, contact a skilled Pensacola estate planning attorney with The Law Office of Zachary T. Magaha.

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