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Florida Probate Laws

The Probate Process in Florida

In Florida, when a person dies, their estate will typically have to go through probate. What is probate? It's is a court-supervised process for transferring the assets of a deceased person (called a decedent) to the people or organizations that are entitled to the assets.

Probate and Wills

The probate in Florida process can vary depending on whether or not you have a valid will and the type of probate administration the decedent's estate will have to go through: formal, summary, or an abbreviated personal property distribution. If you don't have a will, the court will divide the property based on Florida probate laws.

Personal Representatives

A probate judge will appoint a personal representative to the estate to handle the distribution. That person gets together the decedent's property and pays the estate tax (including filing tax returns) plus other expenses of administering the estate. Then, the representative divides the property as the will states or, if no will, by the intestate laws.

See Probate Court, State Probate Courts, Avoiding Probate, and Probate in Florida for more information.

Code Section Estates and Trusts section Ch.731-739
Types of Probate Administration Formal Administration, Summary Administration, and Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration (Value of the Estate Cannot Exceed $10,000.00).
What Assets Go Through Probate? Bank accounts in the decedent's name with no co-owner and no beneficiary designation; real estate that is owned by the decedent individually; real estate that is co-owned as tenants in common; and proceeds from a life insurance policy that is payable to the decedent's estate.
What Assets Do Not Go Through Probate? Property in a Revocable Trust, Real Estate Owned as Joint Tenants with a Right of Survivorship, Life Insurance Policies and Retirement Accounts with a Designated Beneficiary, Bank Accounts with Payable on Death (POD) or Transfer on Death (TOD), and Property held in "Lady Bird" Deeds or Enhanced Life Estates.
Who Supervises and Decides Probate Cases? The Florida Probate Courts.
Estate Taxes None. Florida does not have a separate estate tax. Prior to 2005, Florida did have what is commonly known as a "sponge" tax which is tied to the Federal Estate Tax. However, Florida did away with this entirely for decedents dying in or after 2005 and now has no sponge tax.

Florida probate laws can be tricky. You may wish to consider contacting a local Florida attorney who can help you better understand the current Florida laws.

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