Probate is a court-supervised process used to verify the validity of a decedent’s will and distribute his or her estate under the provisions outlined in the document. Depending on the circumstances, probate may result in a time-consuming and expensive process for someone’s loved ones upon death.
Still, do all estates have to go through probate in Florida? Keep reading to find out.
Do All Estates Have to Go Through Probate in Florida? – The Basics
Determining whether a decedent’s estate should go through probate involves the assessment of several factors, such as the total value of the decedent’s estate subject to probate, the existence of assets with designated beneficiaries, etc.
As long as probate may be necessary when someone dies, it is possible to avoid (or at least mitigate) the process by creating a well-drafted estate plan.
Do All Estates Have to Go Through Probate in Florida? – Taking a Closer Look
Disposition Without Administration
Florida Statutes §735.301 (1) provides that “no administration shall be required, or formal proceedings instituted upon the estate of a decedent leaving only:
- Personal property exempt under the provisions of s. 732.402
- Personal property exempt from the claims of creditors under the Constitution of Florida,
- Nonexempt personal property the value of which does not exceed the sum of the amount of preferred funeral expenses and reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses of the last 60 days of the last illness”
Under Florida Statutes §732.402, exempt property includes:
- Household furniture, furnishings, and appliances in the decedent’s usual place of abode up to a net value of $20,000 as of the date of death
- Two motor vehicles (under specific by statutory provisions)
- All qualified tuition programs authorized by s. 529 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986
- Specific educator death benefits defined by Fla. Stat. §112.1915
Other non-probate assets include:
- Real property held under joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety
- Any property titled to the name of a trust
- Retirement accounts
- Bank/brokerage accounts held under joint tenancy
- Payable-on-death (POD) and transfer-on-death (TOD) accounts
- Life insurance or brokerage-related accounts with beneficiaries that are not the decedent
Summary Administration vs. Formal Administration
If the estate of a deceased person does not qualify for disposition without administration, it might go through probate.
As provided by Florida Statutes §735.201 (2), summary administration applies to cases in which “the value of the entire estate subject to administration in this state, less the value of property exempt from the claims of creditors, does not exceed $75,000 or (…) the decedent has been dead for more than 2 years.”
In essence, summary administration is an expedited version of Florida probate. If there are no disputes or other issues involved in the process, it may be completed within a few weeks.
Nonetheless, if the value of the decedent’s estate subject to probate exceeds $75,000 or the decedent has been dead for less than two years, the estate may go through formal administration.
Considered the traditional form of probate in Florida, formal administration involves longer proceedings with more formalities, which may result in a time-consuming (and likely expensive) experience for those involved.