Under Florida law, probate is the legal process required when a resident or someone who owned assets within state jurisdiction dies with assets titled solely in his or her name. What is the main reason for probate in Florida? Read on to find out.
What is the Main Reason for a Probate in Florida? – The Verdict
The main purpose of any probate administration is to verify the validity of the will and distribute the decedent’s estate according to the document’s provisions. Probate is not always required in Florida.
If the estate is not valuable enough to meet the statutory threshold or the assets are not subject to probate, Florida law has simpler procedures to distribute the decedent’s possessions to the rightful heirs (Fla. Stat. §735.301). When determining whether probate is required, the court will assess:
- The type of property owned by the decedent
- The number of assets subject to distribution through the will
- How the property was owned at the time of death
- The state where the decedent resided
Probate cases often involve individuals who owned assets in multiple states, which may result in ancillary administration. Ancillary administration is an additional probate process required in situations where the decedent owned property outside his or her primary state of residence.
If a person dies in Florida but his primary residence was outside of the state, the decedent’s estate will be administered and distributed under the laws of the state where the property is located.
If the decedent died without a will or the will is deemed invalid in court, the estate must be administered following Florida laws of intestacy.
Considering there is no will to provide how the deceased’s assets should be distributed, intestacy law provides a statutory order of preference for the division and distribution of property.
Understanding Probate in Florida – Summary Administration vs. Formal Administration
Florida law provides two types of probate – summary administration and formal administration. Florida Statutes §735.201 provides that “summary administration may be had in the administration of either a resident or nonresident decedent’s estate, when it appears:
- In a testate estate, that the decedent’s will does not direct administration (…)
- That 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
- That the decedent has been dead for more than two years”
Summary administration is simpler and quicker than formal administration, as it does not require the appointment of a personal representative.
Formal administration is the most common form of probate in Florida. In this process, the court must appoint a qualified person to serve as the personal representative. The duties of the personal representative include:
- Opening the estate
- Gathering and inventorying the decedent’s assets
- Notifying any interested parties (including creditors)
- Pay outstanding debts and taxes
- Pay administration expenses
- File tax returns
- Represent the estate in litigation (if necessary)
- Follow the instructions in the will to distribute the remaining assets
Upon receiving the right to act on the estate’s behalf and administer the decedent’s affairs, Florida law requires the personal representative to hire a licensed attorney for adequate legal representation.