After a loved one dies in Florida, the estate may have to go through a process called probate.
There are different laws depending on whether or not the person left a valid will. If the person left a valid will, then he or she died testate. If there was no will then he or she died intestate.
Within the probate process, there are many rules and regulations. You may go through the summary process or go through the regular Florida probate process. If there is an estate dispute, you may want to enlist the help of a qualified estate law attorney sooner rather than later.
There are typically three things that do not pass through the probate process in Florida. These are:
There are two options available in Florida that are viewed as shortcuts and do not require probate. These are:
1. If the person died more than two years previous, then you may be able to avoid probate.
2. If the value of the probate estate is not more than $75,000 - not including the items listed in the paragraph above - then it's possible the estate will not have to go through probate.
The executor (or a person who is inheriting property from the estate) can file a petition for summary administration. This is usually done for smaller estates. If there is a surviving spouse, he or she must sign and verify the petition. Florida statutes dictate that any beneficiary who does not sign the petition must be served a notice that you have filed the petition.
If the estate qualifies for summary administration, the executor will need to list the deceased person's assets, the value and who inherits them.
If the court determines that the estate qualifies for summary administration, then the court will issue an order. This order will allow the executor to have access to the decedent's bank accounts. It will also allow the executor to distribute the decedent's property.
In the event an estate must be probated, and does not qualify for summary administration, the estate must go through the formal Florida probate process.
If the decedent lived in Florida but was a resident of New Jersey, for example, then there may need to be an evidentiary hearing. If the person who died was a Florida resident - for example had a Florida driver's license and bank accounts - then the will has to be probated in Florida.
An attorney can guide you as to what notices need to be made and where, and how to file an inventory and determine market value. An attorney can also ensure creditors are paid and that deadlines are met or extensions are filed. An attorney can also make a request for disbursement or request to relieve the executor of their responsibilities.