How to Probate a Will in Florida

How to Probate a Will in Florida

March 5, 2021

When a person dies with a will, that’s only the first step in distributing their assets. The person they named as their personal representative (also known as an executor) must file the will and initiate the probate process, if necessary. Here’s what you need to know about estate planning in Miami, FL.

Recording the will

Generally, it is unwise to record a will before a person dies. Wills become public documents, which means that it could jeopardize their privacy—the general public would be privy to their assets as well as their end of life wishes and who they choose to be a personal representative.

Wait until after the person dies to record the will. Florida law states that anyone in possession of a will has 10 days after they learn of the death to file the will with the courts.

Will you need to go through probate?

Not every estate requires probate. Here are some of the situations you might encounter.

  • Some assets don’t need to go through probate: If the decedent owns anything in joint tenancy, has bank, life insurance or retirement accounts with named beneficiaries or has assets held in a living trust, those will not need to go through probate. If that’s the entirety of the estate, so much the better.
  • Disposition without administration: Sometimes the final expenses (funeral and reasonable medical expenses within 60 days of death) are more than the value of the property that would be put through probate. This applies when the decedent didn’t leave any real estate and the only assets left over either do not exceed the amount of final expenses or are exempt from creditors. You’ll need to file a “Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration,” and pay the associated filing fee.
  • Summary administration: This is an option when the death occurred more than two years prior, or the property that would have to go through probate does not exceed $75,000. The executor or any beneficiary under the will must file a Petition for Summary Administration and pay the associated filing fees. If there’s a surviving spouse, they will need to sign and verify this form.
  • Formal administration: Finally, there’s “regular probate,” which allows the personal representative to settle the estate. If the decedent has left behind several different types of property exceeding the summary administration limits, this will be necessary. The personal representative will file the will and the court will grant them the authority to settle the estate. All beneficiaries are notified, and they have the opportunity to contest the will. When everything is settled, the personal representative files receipts with the court and asks that the estate be formally closed.

Probate can get complicated, and with factors like cryptocurrency and online accounts raising concerns that didn’t even exist just a few years ago, many people choose to work with a probate and estate planning attorney in Miami, FL. This ensures that everything is done within the letter of the law, and if there are any objections, they’re handled in a timely, legal fashion. If you need help probating a will in Florida, call Ruben J. Padron, PA today.

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