Probate is the court process of administering the decedent’s estate by distributing the appropriate assets to proper beneficiaries while keeping in mind the claims of creditors. Assets that were individually owned by the decedent at the time of death are included in the estate. Assets jointly titled with another person, assets with a pay on death beneficiary and assets held in the name of a trust may not pass through probate. Probate can take six months to years depending on the complexity of the estate and court’s docket.

There are two primary forms of probate: formal administration and summary administration. Formal administration is required when the decedent is deceased for two years or less, and the value of the probate estate exceeds $75,000. Summary administration is required when the value of the entire probate estate in Florida, less the value of exempt property, does not exceed $75,000, or the decedent is deceased for more than two years.

For residents of the State of Florida, probate is conducted in the county where the decedent died, which is known as domiciliary probate. For non-residents of the State of Florida, probate is conducted in the county in which the decedent owned real property, which is known as ancillary probate.

A personal representative should be represented by an attorney because even simple probates or small estate can have complicated legal issues. Our firm represents personal representatives and/or beneficiaries through the probate process. When representing personal representatives, we assist in the collecting and preserving of estate assets, corresponding with creditors, publishing notice to creditors and making distributions to beneficiaries. Probate can be time consuming and costly. Therefore, we recommend that our clients set up an estate plan that is designed to avoid probate such as a properly funded trust. Contact one of our experienced estate planning & probate attorneys today.