When someone dies in Florida owning assets titled solely in his or her name, the decedent’s estate will likely go through probate. However, statutory rules provide that certain assets are considered exempt property within state jurisdiction.
In this article, you will find out which assets are considered exempt property under Florida law.
What is Considered Exempt Property in Florida Probate? – The Definition
Florida Statutes §732.402 (1) provide that “if a decedent was domiciled in this state at the time of death, the surviving spouse, or, if there is no surviving spouse, the children of the decedent shall have the right to a share of the estate of the decedent as provided in this section (…).”
This specific share of the decedent’s estate is legally designated as “exempt property.” Respectively, Florida Statutes §732.402 (3) and (4) expressly state that:
- “Exempt property shall be exempt from all claims against the estate except perfected security interests thereon
- Exempt property shall be in addition to protected homestead, statutory entitlements, and property passing under the decedent’s will or by intestate succession”
Therefore, if a Florida resident dies owning exempt property, the decedent’s surviving spouse or children (if there is no surviving spouse) may have the right to receive this specific share of the estate.
In essence, Florida exempt property has two main benefits, which are legal exemption from creditors’ claims and automatic exclusion from the value of the decedent’s estate subject to intestacy, elective shares, residuary shares, and probate.
What is Considered Exempt Property in Florida Probate? – As Provided by Law
As provided by Florida Statutes §732.402 (2), “exempt property shall consist of:
- 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 as defined in s. 316.003, which do not, individually as to either such motor vehicle, have a gross vehicle weight in excess of 15,000 pounds, held in the decedent’s name and regularly used by the decedent or members of the decedent’s immediate family as their personal motor vehicles
- All qualified tuition programs authorized by s. 529 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, including, but not limited to, the Florida Prepaid College Trust Fund advance payment contracts under s. 1009.98 and the Florida Prepaid College Trust Fund participation agreements under s. 1009.981
- All benefits paid pursuant to s. 112.1915 (educator death benefits)”
It is crucial to note that if the exempt property is inherited through a will by someone who would not be entitled otherwise, that person will inherit the property as non-exempt property.
Claiming Exempt Property Upon the Owner’s Passing in Florida – How Can it Be Done?
Specifically, Florida Statutes §732.402 (6) adds that “persons entitled to exempt property shall be deemed to have waived their rights under this section unless a petition for determination of exempt property is filed by or on behalf of the persons entitled to the exempt property (…).”
Therefore, the filing of the petition must take place “on or before the later of the date that is:
- 4 months after the date of service of the notice of administration, or
- 40 days after the date of termination of any proceeding involving the construction, admission to probate, or validity of the will or involving any other matter affecting any part of the estate subject to this section”