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Probate Administration – 2024

What is Probate?

Probate is a court-supervised process for identifying and gathering the assets of a deceased person (a “decedent”), paying the decedent’s debts, and distributing the decedent’s assets to his or her beneficiaries. Florida has specific probate rules, procedures, and deadlines that must be followed to properly administer an estate.

When is Probate Necessary?

Probate is necessary when the decedent left probate assets. Only “probate assets” have to go through the probate process in order to pass to the decedent’s beneficiaries. Probate is not necessary when assets pass to the decedent’s beneficiaries by some other way.

What is a Personal Representative?

In Florida, the personal representative (often called an “executor” or “administrator” in other states), is responsible for administering the decedent’s estate, making a diligent search for any creditors the decedent may have had, and paying off a diligent search for any creditors the decedent may have had, paying off the decedent’s debts, and distributing the decedent’s assets to his or her beneficiaries.

What Does and Doesn’t Pass Through Probate?

Assets that don’t pass through probate:

  • Assets that are jointly owned with “rights of survivorship” (i.e., when one person dies, the surviving person gets the asset)
  • Assets that have a designated beneficiary – such as TOD (transfer on death), POD (pay on death), or ITF (in trust for)
  • Assets that are titled in a revocable trust

If not mentioned above, most other assets will pass through probate.

What Does a Will Do?

The Will only controls probate assets that have to go through probate. The Will does not avoid probate. If the decedent left a valid Will, the Will must be admitted to the probate court to effectively pass ownership of the probate assets to the beneficiaries named in the Will. If the decedent did not have a Will, the probate assets will pass to those who are entitled to receive them under Florida law through the probate process.

Summary Administration vs Formal Administration

There are two main types of probate administration under Florida law: formal administration and summary administration.

Summary Administration

Summary administration is a shortened version of a full probate administration.

Summary administration is available if:

  • the decedent has been dead for more than two years (regardless of the value of the estate); or
  • the decedent has been dead for less than two years AND the value of the estate is less than $75,000 (not including exempt assets, such as homestead real property)

Those who receive the estate assets in a summary administration generally remain liable for claims against the decedent for two years after the date of death.

Formal Administration

Formal administration is a full-length probate administration. Formal administration is necessary if the value of the estate exceeds $75,000 OR if a personal representative needs to be appointed.

How Long Does Probate Take?

It depends on what kind of probate administration is necessary. A summary administration may take anywhere from 2-3 months to complete. Formal administrations generally take about 6 months at minimum but the process often extends to around 12 months or longer. However, each estate is unique and a number of factors can significantly impact these timelines.

Why You Need a Florida Probate Attorney

SJF Law Group specializes in probate administration in the State of Florida. Our dedicated team specializes in guiding families through the intricacies of probate with compassion and expertise. In times of difficulty, we strive to offer clarity, comfort, and peace of mind to those navigating this challenging process. 

At SJF Law Group, we understand the importance of having a skilled Florida probate attorney by your side. Our goal is to address your probate issues and concerns with personalized attention and professionalism. You don’t have to face this journey alone – let us assist you in securing your family’s future. 

To explore how our experienced probate attorneys can support you, we encourage you to reach out to SJF Law Group. Connect with us today by calling 954-231-3430 or reaching out online. Your peace of mind is our priority, and we look forward to the opportunity to serve you during this crucial time. 

About The Firm

Since 2011, SJF Law Group has been helping clients protect their families with estate planning, probate & trust administration. We pride ourselves on combining the personalized service and attention of a boutique firm, with the talent and legal acumen of a large firm.

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