Probate is a court-supervised process for identifying and gathering the assets of a deceased person, paying the decedent’s debts, and distributing the decedent’s assets to his or her beneficiaries.  The order of distribution is governed by the Florida Statutes.  In general, the decedent’s assets are used first to pay the costs of the administration, the funeral expenses, the decedent’s outstanding debts, and then the remainder is distributed to the decedent’s beneficiaries.

There are two types of court-supervised probate administration under Florida law: formal administration and summary administration.  Summary administration only applies in limited circumstances: when the probate assets of the estate are less than $75,000 and when there are no known creditors.

In general, probate administration applies only to those assets held in the decedent’s sole name at death.  In some cases, assets such as life insurance or retirement funds might also need to go through probate if there are no individually named beneficiaries or a beneficiary is deceased.

Probate is necessary to pass ownership of the decedent’s probate assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries.  If the decedent had a valid Will, the Will must be admitted to probate and will be effective to pass ownership of probate assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries.  If the decedent had no Will, or the Will is not valid under Florida law, then probate is necessary to pass ownership to those persons entitled to receive them under Florida law.

Questions about probate?  The Law Office of Debra Simms is here to help. Call us today 386.256.4882.


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