Estate Planning Attorneys Helping Florida Families with the Probate Process

HourglassEven with a last will, your estate will go through probate. Florida law requires that anyone with a will must file it with the courts 10 days within death.

Not All Assets Pass Through Probate in Florida

A surprising number of assets can pass over to their beneficiaries without requiring the probate court judge’s approval. These assets can include:

  • Any property held by joint tenancy.
  • Assets that have a designated beneficiary (such as a retirement account).
  • Assets that are held in a living trust and owned by the trust (not the deceased).

The Estate May Qualify for No Probate

If the deceased has very little assets, the disposition process will allow an executor to pay for the deceased’s final expenses and be reimbursed through the estate under Florida Statute 735.301.

This method may only be used in specific situations, such as:

  • There is no real estate property involved with the estate, and
  • The assets are exempt from creditor claims or do not exceed the value of final expenses.

The individual who pays the last expenses will need to file a Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration with the courts. In this document, the individual is required to disclose how much was spent, and must verify that information with itemized statements and receipts for payment.

The Process of Regular Probate

While there are instances where a will may never go through probate, there are also plenty of wills that go through probate in Florida each year.

The process for probate is simple, but it can still take a few months or years depending on the complexity of the estate plan and if the will is contested. Some steps will include:

  1. The executor asking the court to be appointed to the role.
  2. The court will then issue a Letter of Administration, which allows the executor to settle the estate.
  3. The will must be filed with the courts and verified.
  4. Witnesses may need to testify for the validity of the will, unless the will is considered “self-proving” by the overseeing judge.
  5. The executor will then gather all assets associated with the estate, pay liabilities and taxes, and then distribute what is left of the estate to the beneficiaries named in the will.
  6. After the assets have been properly distributed, the executor will submit evidence to the court that items have been paid and settled. The court will then issue the closing and the executor should be relieved of any further duties.

The process in Florida typically takes six months. However, if there are missing assets or if the will is contested, the process time can quickly lengthen to a year or more.

Speak with an Estate Planning Attorney in Florida

If you would like your loved ones to avoid the hassle of probate, it may be time to readdress your estate plan. Contact the attorneys at Beller & Bustamante, P.L. today to explore your options. You can schedule a consultation now at 904-288-4414 or request more information online.