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What is probate?

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice.

In summary, in Florida, Probate is the court-supervised process of transferring ownership of a deceased person’s property to a beneficiary or heir, who becomes the new owner of the asset. Generally, during the Probate process, known as Probate Administration, the Personal Representative of the decedent is heavily involved and typically must file the decedent’s Will with the court, identify and gather the decedent’s assets, pay the decedent’s outstanding debts and costs of administration as set forth in the proceeding, then distribute the assets to the new owner. The probate process has strict timeframes that the Personal Representative must adhere to. It is important to discuss the appropriate time to pay the debts of the decedent and when to distribute the assets to the beneficiaries with a lawyer.

What are Probate Assets?

Not all assets are subject to Probate administration, and some may be distributed directly to the beneficiary without court intervention. Assets titled jointly, and assets held in Trust are some examples of assets that are not likely to require Probate Administration. However, property that is titled solely in the decedent’s name without a beneficiary designation are examples of assets that are subject to Probate Administration.

The estate will qualify for either Formal Administration or Summary Administration. If the decedent’s Probate assets are valued at less than $75,000 or the decedent passed away more than two years ago, the estate may proceed through an abbreviated proceeding known as Summary Administration. If an estate qualifies for Summary Administration, a Personal Representative is not appointed and the court issues an order transferring the ownership of the property to the beneficiaries. However, Formal Administration may be pursued by the Personal Representative in lieu of Summary Administration even though the estate may qualify for the Summary proceeding. It is important to discuss the options with a lawyer.

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