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Thursday, March 14, 2019

Common Florida Probate Questions

The probate process in Florida can be extremely complicated. In fact, probate can be a source of great confusion and frustration for those who are unfamiliar with its intricacies. In order to help you understand how probate in Florida works, below are answers to some common probate questions.  

What is probate?

Probate is the process by which a court identifies and gathers the assets of a deceased individual, uses such assets to pay his or her debts, and distributes remaining assets to beneficiaries of the decedent. Probate resolves a decedent’s financial affairs and ensures that his or her beneficiaries inherit assets that they are entitled to. 

How long does it take?

Probate can be a slow process. In relatively easy cases, the probate process takes approximately six months. However, if complications arise, this timeline can be extended.

Do all assets go through probate?

No, some assets that don’t fall under probate include property that the deceased jointly owned with another person, assets that were directly designated to a beneficiary by the deceased (such as life insurance proceeds), and any assets held in a living trust. However, this is not a complete list, and for more information on avoiding probate, you should immediately schedule a consultation with an experienced estate planning attorney. 

Can I shortcut or avoid probate?

There are a few ways to shortcut or avoid probate in Florida. The first method, called summary administration, applies to the following situations:

  • The decedent died over two years prior to the initiation of the probate process, or
  • The value of the probate estate is $75,000 or less.

In order to be granted summary administration, an estate’s personal representative or beneficiary must file a petition with the court, and it must be signed by all beneficiaries. Following submission of a petition, the court will determine whether the estate qualifies for summary administration. If granted, the judge then orders the release of the decedent’s property to his or her beneficiaries.

An estate can also avoid the probate process if:

  • The decedent’s only assets are personal property, and their value doesn’t exceed $6,000 in funeral or medical expenses 
  • The property is exempt by law from the probate process

Florida Probate Attorneys 

The probate process can be extremely complicated, so it’s important to consult with experienced and knowledgeable Florida legal counsel prior to filing a petition. At the Law Offices of Jeffrey A. Herzog, P.A., our experienced probate and estate administration attorneys provide individuals in Florida with sophisticated probate guidance. Our Florida attorneys, relying on years of probate experience, support our clients through each step of the estate administration process in order to achieve the most desirable results possible. So, don't wait until complications arise in the probate process to speak with an attorney. Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey A. Herzog, P.A. today for a consultation. 

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