Law Offices Of Paul H. Threatt, PLLC.

Understanding The Basics Of Probate In Florida

Understanding The Basics Of Probate In Florida Lawyer, Saint Augustine CityIn this article, you can discover:

  • The different types of probate in Florida, based on estate value and asset composition.
  • Which assets are subject to probate and the exemptions available for assets held in trusts or passed by contract.
  • The varied duration of probate cases and factors that can impact the timeline.

Can I Choose From Different Types Of Probate In Florida?

In Florida, there are three types of probate. First is full probate, which is applicable to estates with assets exceeding $75,000 or those that include real estate. The second type is summary probate, which is for estates with assets less than $75,000 and no real estate. This type of probate allows for a swift resolution with minimal filings and handling of minor debts. The third type is probate without administration, which is rare and typically applies to estates with a value below $25,000 and no debts.

It’s important to note that if you require probate without administration, you may not need the assistance of an attorney. The distinction between summary probate and full probate is based on whether the estate includes real estate and exceeds the $75,000 threshold.

What Assets Would Be Subject To Probate In Florida? Or, Are All Assets Subject To Probate?

In general, without a plan or special conditions, all assets are subject to probate in Florida. It is easier to identify what assets are not subject to probate. Homestead property, for example, is not subject to probate, but it requires a petition to the probate court to declare it as such to receive creditor protections and distribute it to family members. It’s a unique situation where you need to ask the probate court to avoid probate.

Assets held in a trust are also not subject to probate, which is one of the primary reasons for establishing a trust. Additionally, assets that pass by contract, such as life insurance policies or designated beneficiaries on checking or savings accounts, do not go through probate as they are distributed based on contractual agreements.

However, there are situations where assets that would not typically be subject to probate may be pulled into probate if there are significant debt claims and creditors seek assets to satisfy those debts. Overall, an estate plan aims to remove assets from probate, but it starts with the assumption that all assets could be subject to probate.

How Long Does Probate Typically Take?

The duration of probate can vary depending on the complexity of the case. In the case of a straightforward and simpler probate, such as summary probate, it can be relatively quick, typically taking less than nine months. The process begins within a few days after the individual’s passing, with notifications sent to relevant parties and public announcements made in newspapers.

After 90 days, the time for filing claims closes, and the probate can be petitioned for closure. Therefore, the earliest possible time frame for summary probate is around six months. However, some probate cases can extend up to two years or longer, especially if unexpected factors arise, such as the discovery of additional assets in different locations. These factors can significantly impact the overall duration. On average, probate in Florida usually ranges from six months to two years.

What Are The Personal Representative’s Responsibilities In A Florida Probate Case?

It is worth noting that in Florida law, the official term used is “personal representative,” although “executor” is commonly used. The personal representative is responsible for several crucial tasks in a probate case. These include submitting the will to probate, verifying its validity, consolidating the assets (also known as marshaling the assets) by accounting for their location and value, creating an inventory, and submitting it to the court.

The personal representative must certify the accuracy of the inventory. Additionally, they are responsible for notifying creditors, publishing probate announcements in newspapers or general distribution papers, and addressing claims and debts, including payments to funeral homes and attorneys involved in the process.

The personal representative also prepares a final accounting, notifies heirs of their inheritance, provides an opportunity for challenges or requests from the estate, and ultimately presents a detailed report to the judge outlining how assets were distributed. Finally, the personal representative petitions the judge for the closure of the probate.

It is essential to recognize that serving as a personal representative is a substantial responsibility, and it is not uncommon for personal representatives to enlist the assistance of a law firm’s paralegals to handle various aspefcts of these responsibilities efficiently. Creating a trust can help streamline the probate process and reduce the workload for the personal representative.

For more information on Types Of Probate Under Florida State Law, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (904) 650-4262 today.

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