Probate is the legal process conducted by the appropriate court to oversee the execution of a deceased’s estate in Florida. The key purpose is to ensure the decedent’s assets are correctly distributed to their rightful heirs and beneficiaries.
In this article, you will discover the common myths associated with probate in Florida.
The Common Myths of Florida Probate – An Overview
“It is Possible to Avoid Probate If you Have a Valid Will”
Even though a valid will is essential for any Florida resident, it does not necessarily have the power to avoid probate. When someone dies in Florida, the custodian of that person’s will must submit the document to the court within 10 days of discovery of the death.
Upon receipt of the will, the court must determine the document’s validity and verify whether the decedent’s estate is subject to probate. While a will cannot avoid probate, it outlines the testator’s wishes and preferences for the distribution of the estate.
If a person living in Florida dies without a will, the deceased’s estate is considered intestate and distributed according to the state’s intestacy laws (Fla. Stat. §732.101 – §732.111).
“The Government Inherits the Deceased’s Assets If There is No Will”
Florida law has specific provisions to handle the estates of individuals that die intestate (lit. leaving no will). As provided by Florida Statutes §732.101 (1), “any part of the estate of a decedent not effectively disposed of by will passes to the decedent’s heirs as prescribed in the following sections of this code.”
Florida Statutes §732.104 adds that “descent shall be per stirpes, whether to descendants or to collateral heirs.” If the decedent has no surviving spouse or children, the intestate estate will pass to the “next of kin,” based on statutory order of preference.
Handling court procedures involving intestacy is a complex task that requires the guidance of a licensed attorney in Florida.
“Probate is Always a Time-Consuming Experience in Florida”
In Florida, probate is not always time-consuming. Most estates subject to probate must go through formal administration, which requires the appointment of a personal representative and direct court supervision.
If the value of the decedent’s assets is not over $75,000 or the deceased has been dead for more than two years, the estate may qualify for summary administration. With no unexpected issues involved, you can settle an estate through summary administration within four to six weeks.
“If Someone Dies in Florida, the Deceased’s Debts Automatically Ceased to Exist”
Many Florida residents believe that their debts die with them, which could not be further from the truth. If someone dies with outstanding debts, unpaid bills, or even liens/judgments attached to a property, the decedent’s estate is responsible for repaying any debts owed at the time of his or her death.
Once the estate repays the owed amount , the decedent’s heirs can inherit the remaining assets.