What Assets Are Subject To Probate In Florida?
Generally speaking, assets that are subject to probate in Florida, regardless of their form, whether real estate, tangible or intangible personal property, etc., are those assets which were owned exclusively by or payable to the decedent, or those assets in which the decedent held or claimed to hold an interest, provided the interest did not pass to others immediately upon the decedent’s death.
An inventory of the estate assets must be filed in the probate case, and therefore, it is very important that the personal representative make a diligent effort to locate and identify all assets so that a proper inventory can be prepared by the attorney. Both the personal representative and the attorney are required to sign the inventory.
What Is the Threshold For Probate In Florida?
A probate administration is not required when the decedent leaves only personal property which under Florida law is exempt from the claims of creditors, and leaves non-exempt personal property which has a total value less than the amount of preferred funeral expenses and reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses of the last 60 days of the last illness. This process is known as, Disposition Without Administration, and is initiated by an informal application obtainable from the probate clerk. If the decedent’s property and assets are such that a Disposition Without Administration is not permissible, then a probate of the decedent’s property and assets will be required.
What Is Considered A Small Estate In Florida?
When the estate does not exceed $75,000 in value.
Does Homestead Property Have To Be Probated In Florida?
Yes. The probate process is necessary in order for the court to make an official determination that the homestead is exempt and protected from the claims of creditors. In some instances, the decedent’s homestead will not be exempt, and this must be noted on the inventory of the estate.
What Is Exempt Property In A Florida Probate?
If the decedent was a domiciled resident of Florida at the time of death, the surviving spouse (or the children of the decedent if there is no surviving spouse) are entitled to exempt property free from the claims of creditors, which consists of the following:
- Household furniture, furnishings, and appliances in the decedent’s home up to a net value of $20,000 as of the date of death,
- Two motor vehicles, as defined by statute, if the vehicles are titled in the decedent’s name and were regularly used by the decedent or members of the decedent’s immediate family as their personal motor vehicles,
- All qualified tuition programs authorized by section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, including, but not limited to the Florida prepaid Trust Fund and advance payment contracts, and the Florida Prepaid College Trust Fund participation agreements, and
- All benefits for teachers and administrators allowed by sec. 112.1915 of the Florida Statutes.
Who Is Involved In The Probate Process In Florida?
Generally speaking, the persons or entities involved in the probate process (or those who have the right to be involved) are those that Florida law considers “interested persons,” which is anyone who may reasonably be expected to be impacted by the outcome of the probate process. Specifically, and customarily, in addition to the attorney who represents the personal representative or a particular beneficiary, the persons involved are the beneficiaries named in the will, the decedent’s surviving spouse, children, and in some cases, surviving parents or grandchildren or even more distant relatives. If the decedent has unpaid bills or other obligations, then creditors are entitled to notice of the probate. Local, state and the federal government will also be involved with respect to the decedent’s tax obligations.
How Are Creditors Involved In The Probate Process In Florida?
The personal representative is required to act for the best interest of creditors of the estate. A notice to creditors must be published promptly after the estate is opened in a newspaper published in the county where the probate estate is administered. The attorney will publish this notice, but it is the responsibility of the personal representative to make a diligent search of the decedent’s mail, communications, and other records to determine if there are “reasonably ascertainable” creditors of the decedent. If there are such creditors, the personal representative is required to bring them to the attention of his or her attorney so that the attorney can serve the creditor(s) with direct notice of the probate and inform the creditor of its rights and obligations regarding the filing of a statement of claim against the estate.
Creditors have a limited period of time in which to file a claim against the estate. If the personal representative’s attorney is a competent, experienced probate counselor, then the attorney will fully advise the personal representative so that he or she can make an informed decision as to whether to pay, negotiate settlement, or, through the attorney, file an objection to the claim. The probate estate cannot be closed, and the personal representative cannot be discharged from any further responsibility for the estate until all claims have been satisfied or otherwise disposed of on the record of the probate case.
For more information on Assets Subject To Probate In Florida, a consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (352) 369-0664 today.
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