In broad terms, probate is a legal process that administers the estate of a deceased person and generally entails authenticating a will left behind by a deceased person as well as valuing the deceased person’s estate. In the state of Florida, heirs of an estate must make claims within two years and for the process to being, they have to pay probate proceeding costs.


Probate administration only involves probate assets, which are basically the assets that a dead person either owned 100 percent or co-owned but there is no clear description of succession. Some of the assets that fall under the probate category include bank accounts, stock market investment accounts, life insurance policies, real estate, and retirement accounts. With this in mind, it is wise to look at the different types of probate in Florida.


Probate AdministrationThis is the most common type of probate in Florida and can proceed with or without a will. The process starts with the beneficiaries filing a petition at the probate court to open the estate and name the executor. Then, a court publishes a notice to creditors to file their claims within three months. After the period for filing claims is over, the executor distributes the estate. While this may sound straightforward, there are certain provisions to take into account. To start with, formal administration normally involves assets greater than $75,000 excluding the deceased’s primary residence. Secondly, the will left by the deceased must have a provision requiring the executor to proceed with formal administration.


In Florida, summary administration comes in handy when the value of an estate does not exceed $75,000 excluding the primary residence. In addition, it does not require the appointment of an executor and letters of administration. If a dead person left any real estate, this form of administration transfers the same directly to beneficiaries. However, it is probably important to note that formal administration is not suitable if there are minors involved or missing heirs. The same is true if the deceased leaves unknown assets and debts.


In cases where a deceased person is an out-of-state resident but leaves behind property or property liens in Florida, ancillary probate administration will come into play. The Florida proceeding is the ancillary while the out-of-state probate is the domiciliary. If the deceased’s property in Florida is worth less than $50,000, the ancillary probate can distribute the estate without entering into a formal proceeding. Ancillary probate can also forgo formal administration if the deceased leaves only property in Florida. At the same time, probate proceedings related to the deceased must have taken place in another state. In such a case, the probate court will issue ancillary letters to the executor if qualified to act in Florida.


When it comes to disposition without administration, formal proceedings are not necessary if a deceased person only owns property. In addition, such property must be exempt from creditor claims and worth no more than funeral and medical expenses racked up by the deceased during the last 60 days of hospitalization.


Probate administration also takes into account federal and state taxes. It is the duty of the estate executor or representative to file business, income, gift, and estate taxes. This will depend on the size of the estate and income attributable to the estate.

Whether one dies testate or intestate, distribution of assets is an important undertaking. Probate administration involves inventorying assets left by a deceased person as well as paying off outstanding debts. The remaining assets, if any, go to heirs appointed by the dead person. Remember the process can take the form of summary, formal, ancillary, or disposition without administration.