Probate Law

What Has to Go Through Probate – Your Guide to the Process?

Probate is the required legal process supervised by the court to verify and manage personal assets following one’s death. The probate process differs in each state and is needed to ensure that assets are properly allocated to beneficiaries. Here, you will learn about Florida’s probate rules/procedures. Please note that while this information can act as a guide, you need an experienced attorney to assist you the rest of the way.

What Is Probate?

The following are some common terms used in the process of probate. 

The Decedent

The person who died and whose assets and estate are the center focus of litigation.

Executor

The person who is written in the will or commissioned by the court to handle the personal financial obligations of the deceased. 

Beneficiary

Those who are designated in a will or estate plan and who receive a number of a party’s assets after the person dies or is no longer capable of managing their assets. 

Intestate

When someone dies without a valid will, Florida declares the deceased’s property as “intestate.” 

Administration

This denotes the legal dispersal of a person’s assets. Administration takes place in probate court following that person’s death. 

County Court Clerk

In the state of Florida, the majority of probate hearings get conducted via the county court clerk in the county where the deceased passed away.

Probate Litigation

This is basically used to detail legal disputes in the process of probate. Common forms of such disputes often include things like a questioning of wills or trusts or disputes over legal guardianship.

Probate Court

Probate court is often used to detail the court where probate hearings are conducted, although the majority of hearings are conducted in the county court clerk. 

Personal Representative

A person who is appointed to legally supervise the dispersal of assets of the deceased’s estate.

Administrative Notice

A formal notice issued by a personal representative to the beneficiary and other related parties. This notice is a legal requirement of the state of Florida and aims to provide specific details about the probate process. 

What Goes Through Probate

According to Florida law, probate is divided into three types: 

The following is a detailed description of the three probate procedures.

Formal Administration

Also sometimes called “formal probate.” This procedure is the standard type of probate and the most common. The formal probate management is conducted in the county’s local circuit court where the deceased lived when they died. Once the individual dies, the executor (or other related party) requests to be the one appointed as the personal representative for the deceased’s estate. It is then that the process begins. Then, notice is given to the beneficiaries designated in the estate, where they have the opportunity to raise any objections. 

Disposition without Administration

Since there is no administration, this process involves completely skipping over probate hearings due to specific circumstances. It must be noted that this option is available only when the decedent has no real estate left and the only assets for probate are lower than the final cost proceeding probate. Bottom line: When holding a probate hearing isn’t financially feasible, no administrative sanctions will occur. 

Summary Administration

Probate can be used when the property or assets totals $75,000 or less when passed through the probate court. When it comes to deaths that occurred two or more years ago (for example, missing persons who were just declared dead), summary management can also be used. This kind of management process is started by submitting a simplified management application that has to be signed by the surviving spouse or beneficiary. Essentially, this type of probate is expedited by comparison. 

Since there isn’t a formal type of court hearing that applies to estate management, in order to recover assets, a form called Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration must be submitted.

Common Questions About Probate

Should I hire an attorney?

Absolutely. The process of probate and that it entails can quickly get messy when more than one family member is involved. As such, it’s important to have an objective professional who can guide you through the challenging process of probate.

In doing so, you can be sure to receive expert advice on what to do and how to approach the distribution of assets and other aspects of the will. 

What becomes of the decedent’s bank account?

As long as the decedent has a POD (Payable on Death) or beneficiary, the decedent’s assets can be distributed among their heirs. If neither a POD nor beneficiary exist, the bank won’t release the funds.

How long is the probate process?

Every probate is different due to the fact that there are so many different factors involved. On average, however, you’re looking at anywhere between 6 and 12 months.

Contact Doane & Doane Today for Assistance 

Doane & Doane was founded in 2003 and has continued to serve Southeast Florida’s residents and businesses through qualified legal and probate counsel. In fact, Doane & Doane is one of the area’s most trusted and respected tax and estate planning firms. If you need assistance with probate, we encourage you to contact us at 561-656-0200. Alternatively, you can always fill out our online contact form, and we will promptly respond to your inquiry.

The information in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. You should not make a decision whether or not to contact an attorney based upon the information in this blog post. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. If you require legal advice, please consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.