The Florida probate process assists individuals with identifying and distributing a person’s assets after they pass away. The Florida Bar notes that the state recognizes two types of probate, formal and summary administration; in most cases, formal is the more common of the two.
Those who must enter Florida probate may want to learn about the process beforehand so they feel more prepared and confident about it.
Generally, probate assets refer to money and property that did not pass immediately to another person upon death. For example, if an elderly woman living in Miami owned a condo but did not make any provisions for ownership upon her death, her family will likely need probate to verify ownership. Other assets that may go into Florida probate vary and may include:
- Life insurance policy payouts (where there is no living beneficiary named)
- Retirement accounts (when no beneficiary is named)
- Assets from checking/savings accounts
- Stock accounts
- Real Estate
During a Florida probate court proceeding, the judge will appoint a Personal Representative to handle the case. The Judge will examine the will, if one exists, and review an affidavit of heirs. The Judge will want to make sure that all interested persons received notice of the probate proceeding, including heirs and creditors of the deceased. The Judge will also review which assets the heirs claim are exempt from creditors claims. Creditors have an opportunity to file claims such as for funeral bills, Medicaid claims, medical bills, claims for family support and even credit card claims. The Judge decide whether they will be paid. and then listen to any claims on assets put forward by family members. After appropriate claims are paid, the remaining assets are then dispersed among those named in a will or if no will exists, as set forth by Florida’s intestacy statute. Florida Statutes Sections 732.101-732.111.
In formal probate, the most common kind of probate, the Personal Representative must be represented by an attorney according to Florida Rule of Civil Procedure 5.030. Make sure that you hire an attorney with experience in probate law. The attorneys with Hathaway Sprague Law have over 30 years experience handling probate cases and estate planning..