What You Should Know About Probate in Florida (Part A)

It's important to know that probate in Florida and elsewhere involves having a court identify and gather your assets, pay taxes, claims and other expenses. Since probate can be a long, drawn-out process, you should meet with an estate planning attorney in Fort Myers, Florida, to get input on navigating probate court or getting your affairs in order to help your beneficiaries possibly avoid probate.

Probate also distributes assets to your beneficiaries after you die. While probate is often necessary to settle the affairs a deceased individual leaves behind, there are laws regarding probate in Florida that allow you to make certain decisions by having a valid will. Without a will, you could be setting the stage for mass confusion and difficulties after your death.

Which assets are probate assets? 

Probate assets generally are assets in the deceased's name only at the time of death. Additionally, there typically must be no provision for series of ownership upon death. Examples include:

 

  • ·         banking accounts held in the decedent's name, but not accounts held jointly or held in trust for someone else;
  • ·         a life insurance policy that is payable to the decedent's estate, but not a policy, individual retirement account, or annuity payable to a certain beneficiary; and
  • ·         real estate (except homestead) that is titled in the decedent's name only or as a tenant in common with another individual, but not real estate that's held as joint tenants and with survivorship rights or by entirety as tenants.

 

You should also be advised that property owned by married couples as tenants by the entirety is often not considered to be a probate asset when a spouse dies. The surviving spouse will automatically be entitled to such property.

Keep in mind that the above list is not all inclusive of probate assets. To get a thorough understanding of probate assets, you should contact an estate planning attorney, in Fort Myers, Florida, who has vast probate experience.

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