Probate is the name of the court process for passing ownership of a deceased person’s property to his or her beneficiaries.
For real estate, there are two types of probate administration under Florida law: formal administration and summary administration. Even if you have a Will, your property must pass through probate before your beneficiaries can obtain legal title to your property.
Summary Administration is available if the value of your property subject to probate in Florida is not more than $75,000, and if you have no creditors. Summary administration is also available if the date of death is more than two years prior to opening the estate. Summary Administration is usually less expensive and less time consuming than a formal probate.
If the total value of your estate is more than $75,000 or if there are actual or potential claims against your estate, then your heirs or beneficiaries will have to open a formal probate. This process is more expensive and usually much more time consuming than a summary probate.
In either event, your heirs or beneficiaries will need to hire a lawyer, pay court and other costs, file a publication notice, and wait until the Judge signs the required Orders before they can own or sell your land.
Even the simplest of probate estates must be open for at least the three-month creditor claim period; it is reasonable to expect that a simple probate estate will take at least five or six months to properly handle.
There are a number of ways to avoid this costly and lengthy procedure.
If you have a Revocable Living Trust, you can transfer your real estate to your Trust. If you do not already have a Trust, it is a good idea to consult with an attorney to determine whether this solution is right for you. Once you have a Trust, a deed must be prepared and recorded, transferring the real estate to your Trust.
Another option to avoid Real Estate is to consult an attorney about a “Lady Bird Deed”. This is a type of deed used in Florida to transfer real estate to your intended beneficiaries automatically upon your death without the need for a probate.
If you own your real estate jointly with another individual, with rights of survivorship, or as Husband and Wife, then upon your death, the other individual will automatically own the property and no probate will be required until the second individual passes away. You can still have a Lady Bird Deed if you own the property with another individual as long as you both agree on who will receive the property when you both pass away.
If you own the real estate with another individual, but the deed does not say “husband and wife” or “joint tenants with rights of survivorship” then your share of the property must pass through probate before your heirs or beneficiaries can receive it.
Questions? The Law Office of Debra Simms is here to help. Call us today 386.256.4882
This blog post is not case-specific and is provided only for educational purposes and is not intended to provide specific legal advice. Blog topics may or may not be updated and entries may be out-of-date at the time you view them.