Probate often involves the distribution of real property through a will. If a Florida resident dies owning a property titled solely in his or her name, that property must go through probate administration before being transferred to its rightful heirs.
Is vacant land subject to probate in Florida? Read on to find out.
Probate Assets vs. Non-Probate Assets – Understanding the Concept
During probate, the deceased’s estate goes through a court-supervised administration to oversee the transfer of the money and assets to their rightful new owners. Not all assets are subject to probate, as some of them are inherited without court intervention.
If a deceased’s estate has no probate assets, it may not need probate administration.
Under Florida law, any assets titled solely in the decedent’s name at the time of death are subject to probate. This category includes any real property titled solely in the decedent’s name or owned under tenancy in common.
Assets with designated beneficiaries do not need to go through probate. Examples include real property owned under the joint tenancy with rights of survivorship, a couple’s property held under tenancy by the entirety, and any property titled in the name of a trust.
Is Vacant Land Subject to Probate in Florida? – The Verdict
Whether a piece of vacant land is subject to probate depends on how it is titled. If the land is titled in the deceased’s sole name at the time of death, it is subject to probate. There are two types of probate in Florida – summary administration and formal administration.
Florida Statutes §735.201 requires summary administration if:
- The decedent’s will does not have express language requiring formal administration
- The value of the decedent’s estate subject to probate does not exceed $75,00, or
- The decedent has been dead for more than two years
Summary administration is an efficient and quicker form of probate that does not require the appointment of a personal representative. In most cases, the entire administration process is complete within a few weeks.
If an estate does not qualify for summary administration, it must go through formal administration. This form of probate is usually lengthier, as the court must appoint a personal representative to wrap up the estate before distribution.
Depending on the circumstances, inheriting vacant land through formal administration may require up to two years.
If the vacant land has designated beneficiaries, it is not considered part of the decedent’s estate and can be inherited outside of probate.
For example, a piece of vacant land owned by a Florida resident under joint tenancy with rights of survivorship does not need to go through probate. If one of the tenants dies, the surviving tenant automatically inherits the remaining share in the property.
Vacant land owned under tenancy by the entirety is also exempt from probate. This form of ownership is only available for married couples in Florida. Each tenant owns the property in its entirety, which means no transfer is necessary upon the death of one of the tenants.
Another way to avoid probate is to transfer the title of vacant land to a Florida trust. Once the asset is titled in the name of a trust, it is no longer considered part of an estate. When the original owner dies, the beneficiaries receive the property without probate.