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Understanding Probate in Florida: Must All Property Pass Through Probate When a Person Dies?

Understanding Probate in Florida: Must All Property Pass Through Probate When a Person Dies?

Family on beach dealing with loss and will for probate in miami

Dealing with the loss of a loved one and going through the process of Florida probate law can be a lot to deal with. It is important to know how probate works in Florida and whether all assets are subject to this legal process. Feel free to contact us by clicking here to discuss your probate questions with one of our attorneys in Miami.

What is Probate?

Probate is a legal procedure that occurs after someone's passing to ensure the rightful distribution of their assets. In Florida, a probate court judge oversees the estate administration, which involves identifying the decedent's assets, settling debts & taxes, and distributing the remaining property to beneficiaries. Probate in Florida generally falls into two categories: summary administration and formal administration.

Summary Administration

Summary administration is a quicker and less costly process applicable to smaller estates in Florida. This method is used when the decedent's assets, excluding exempt property, are valued at $75,000 or less, or when the individual has been deceased for over two years.

Formal Administration

For larger estates or those requiring a personal representative to manage the assets, formal administration is necessary. This more intricate and time-consuming process involves appointing a personal representative who acts on behalf of the estate. The personal representative is responsible for gathering the decedent's assets, settling debts & taxes, and distributing the remaining property according to the decedent's will or Florida's intestate succession laws.

The Role of a Probate Lawyer in Florida Probate Law

Probate lawyers, also known as probate attorneys or estate lawyers, specialize in guiding families through the probate process. They provide legal advice, guide you through the complexities of Florida probate law, and ensure efficient administration of the estate with minimal stress for you and you and your family. A successful probate lawyer can help families understand their options, develop a plan for success, and represent their interests in court.

Get legal advice from a Probate law firm committed to helping you get the best possible outcome. Contact us now at by clicking here for a consultation regarding your probate legal remedies or call us at (305) 379-4008.

Probate Assets vs. Non-Probate Assets

Determining the necessity of probate involves understanding the decedent's assets and their titling. Assets generally fall into two categories: probate assets and non-probate assets.

Probate Assets

Probate assets are solely owned by the decedent at the time of death and typically require probate for distribution based on the will or Florida's intestate succession laws. Examples of probate assets include:

  • Real property titled in the decedent's name or held as tenants in common

  • Bank or brokerage accounts in the decedent's sole name

  • Personal property, which can be furniture, vehicles, or jewelry

  • Life insurance policies without a named beneficiary or with the estate as the designated beneficiary

  • Interests in partnerships, LLCs, or corporations without specific provisions addressing asset distribution upon a member's death

Non-Probate Assets

Non-probate assets bypass the probate process and are directly transferred to designated beneficiaries or co-owners. These assets include:

  • Retirement accounts

  • Property or assets held in a trust

  • Jointly held bank or brokerage accounts with rights of survivorship, payable-on-death (POD), or transfer-on-death (TOD) designations

  • Life insurance policies with named beneficiaries

  • Real property held as tenancy by the entirety or joint tenancy with rights of survivorship

Florida's Intestate Succession Laws

When a person dies without a valid will, their estate is considered "intestate," and Florida's intestate succession laws determine the distribution of probate assets. These laws prioritize the decedent's surviving spouse, children, and other relatives, with distribution varying based on the family situation. A probate attorney can clarify how Florida's intestate succession laws apply to a specific case.

Guardianship in Florida Probate Law

Guardianship is a legal process where a court-appointed guardian manages the affairs of someone unable to care for themselves due to disability, old age, mental illness, or other reasons. In Florida, common types of guardianship include incapacity guardianship and guardian advocacy. Incapacity guardianship involves a committee of medical professionals examining the proposed ward, while guardian advocacy is a streamlined process for individuals with developmental disabilities. A probate law firm experienced in handling guardianship cases can assist families throughout this complex process.

Probate Fees and Costs

Probate fees and costs in Florida vary based on the estate's complexity and the type of probate administration. Some things that may affect fees are:

  • court filing fees

  • personal representative fees

  • attorney fees

  • and appraisal or accounting fees.

Some probate law firms offer flat fees for probate and guardianship administration, which gives clients with upfront clarity regarding costs.

Weu2019re Here for You. Talk to an Attorney at our Probate Law Firm in Miami, Florida

When searching for the best probate lawyer in Miami or other areas of Florida for you, it's important to find a reputable law firm with experience handling probate cases throughout MIami and other cities in Florida. Also, look for probate attorneys with a proven track record of success, positive client testimonials, and extensive knowledge of Miami law and Florida probate law. Contact us at Stokes McMillan Antu00fanez Martinez-Lejarza P.A. today to speak with one of our probate attorneys.

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