Good estate planning helps you to avoid probate.
Probate is the time-consuming and expensive court process that oversees the distribution of a decedent’s estate.
There are 3 types of probate in Florida which we will discuss further below.
It is generally advisable to avoid probate as much as possible.
Avoiding probate allows a decedent’s estate to pass to his heirs directly and without exorbitant court fees and costs. This is achieved by working with an experienced estate planning attorney and making sure that you have various estate planning tools, like a Will and revocable living trust, in place before it’s too late.
A Brief Look Back in Time: The History of Probate in the United States
Probate in the United States grew out of the doctrines and workings of the English ecclesiastical courts.
Before the Norman Conquest, a dying man would generally make his Will (i.e., Last Will and Testament) on his deathbed. The dying man would tell the priest hearing his last confession how he wanted his property disposed of. At that time, however, regardless of the dead man’s wishes, generally a portion of his property might go to his wife, and some to his children (if he had any), but a portion of it would certainly go to the church.
How a man’s property was divided up was left to either the priest who presided at the deathbed, or to family, or even to friends who had attended his death. In those days, there was no executor (or personal representative), and no formal process for disposing of a man’s goods.
The probate court in the United States grew out of the ecclesiastical courts—which were responsible for one’s spiritual well-being, and the Common Law Courts—the courts where a deceased’s creditors would go to sue for what they were owed. Eventually, the Probate Court and the Orphan’s Court were developed by the colonists in North America to handle the distribution of a decedent’s estate.
3 Types of Probate in Florida
Florida currently has 3 types of probate administration.
Formal administration of an estate is required when decedent has been dead for two years or less and when the value of the probate estate exceeds $75,000. Bear in mind that a decedent’s “gross estate” is not the same thing as his “probate estate.” A decedent’s probate estate consists of all property held in decedent’s name alone. This means that joint property will not be part of a decedent’s probate estate. Nor will property that passes directly to a beneficiary, or property in a trust. Formal administration is what you would expect. It requires a formal petition to the probate court and generally is a full process that takes time to complete. Formal administration will require “notice to creditors.” Depending on the assets in the estate and other complexities, it can take 6-12 months or more to complete formal administration.
Unlike formal administration, summary administration is generally quicker and less expensive than formal administration. However, summary administration is not available for all estates. It is an administrative process that is generally available for estates with a value of less than $75,000 in total assets. While not required, summary administration is best handled with the help of an experienced estate and probate lawyer.
Ancillary administration is necessary when the decedent owns property outside of Florida. Ancillary administration is probate in another jurisdiction or state. So, for example, if a Florida resident owned property in New York, an ancillary administration of that property would have to take place in New York. The time and cost of conducting an ancillary administration is obvious but may be avoided with careful estate planning.
Plantation, Florida Estate Planning Lawyers To Help You
At the SJF Law Group, we work hard to ensure that your wishes will be followed, and your loved ones are taken care of when you are gone. When you work with the estate planning attorneys at the SJF Law Group, you get more than just an estate plan: you get peace of mind. We expertly guide individuals through the complex probate process, and capably handle all aspects of the creation, administration, and settlement of trusts as well. Contact us here or email us at: [email protected].