Probate is something that most people don’t even realize they don’t understand until suddenly they are thrown into a world of estate plans and assets due to the death of a family member. This quick guide to the Florida probate can help keep you informed so that the probate isn’t such an overwhelming mystery down the road.
Many people create wills and estate plans to ensure that their belongings are passed down to the people of their choosing. These same people often have living trusts, assets with specific beneficiaries, and other very precise plans to guarantee that their homes, savings, and other assets are provided to the right family members and friends.
However, if a person dies without a valid will to direct his assets to the proper beneficiaries, or if assets exist that cannot be given directly to the beneficiaries, the probate must step in. A Lakeland probate attorney is a court-supervised process meant to gather the deceased person’s assets, pay his debts and probate fees, and then distribute the remaining assets to any beneficiaries.
The Types of Probate
Florida probate can occur in formal administration and summary administration. Under formal administration, also known as ‘regular probate’, any existing will is first deemed acceptable or unacceptable for use in probate. If the will does not exist or does not specify an executor, the circuit court approves an interested party, usually a family member or friend, as the personal representative. The probate proceedings take place in the county of residence at the time of the death, and any potential heirs and beneficiaries are given enough notice to object to the probate.
Summary administration, on the other hand, can occur if the death occurred more than two years ago or if the value of all probate assets value less than $75,000. In this case, the estate is released to the people who rightfully inherit it.
What Qualifies as a Probate Asset?
Probate assets are specifically assets owned at the time of death that do not qualify for automatic succession to a beneficiary at the time of death. These assets often include bank accounts or investments solely in the name of the deceased, life insurance policies, real estate only in the name of the deceased.
Probate is a complicated matter that always requires the guidance of a Brandon probate attorney to ensure every step is done properly.