You are likely familiar with the concept of estate probate in Florida. One question often asked though is how much does an estate have to be worth in order to go to probate in Florida? This article provides additional information regarding probate requirements and the timeline for taking an estate to probate court in Florida. With proper planning, you can avoid probate court entirely.
What is Probate?
Probate is the legal process of transferring ownership of an estate to the next of kin. Property that passes through probate is subject to special rules, such as payment of debts and taxes. Estate values that must be considered in a probate case include the worth of the property itself, any outstanding debts and liabilities, and any income or assets that may be available to pay those debts and liabilities. Generally, the value of an estate is equal to its fair market value at the time of death plus any outstanding debts and liabilities.
Probate Jurisdiction in Florida
Florida Statute section 733.101 governs the venue of a probate case. If a decedent was a Florida resident at the time of their death, their probate case must be filed in the county where they resided at the time of their death. A probate case can be filed in a county where the decedent owned property for an out-of-state resident. According to Article V Section 20(3) of the Florida Constitution, circuit courts handle probate cases.
Only property located within Florida can be transferred through Florida courts. A circuit court also has the prerogative to freeze assets that are presumed to be the decedent’s until legal ownership is established.
How Much Does an Estate Have to Be Worth to Go to Probate in Florida?
In Florida, the probate process is used to settle an estate, including all property, and assets of a deceased person. When a person dies, probate is required for any estate with non-exempt assets worth more than $75,000. Exceptions are properties with name beneficiaries or right of survivorship, such as life insurance and bank accounts. Probate is also needed when the heirs contest an estate.
A personal representative is an appointed person who can do anything the deceased could do when they were alive and has a duty to ensure that the estate is distributed to beneficiaries/heirs and creditors, according to the documented wishes of the deceased. Common scenarios when a personal representative may be needed include the filing of lawsuits on behalf of the estate or when an investigation into the decedent’s assets must be completed. If a decedent had no will, Florida Statute 733.301 determines who has preference to act.
What Happens After the Probate is Complete
The probate process in Florida is designed to distribute an estate’s assets to the rightful heirs as quickly and efficiently as possible. Generally, the probate process only needs to occur if the deceased person had a will or if there are no known heirs. If there is no will, the court will determine who the heir is based on the deceased person’s family relationships.
Once the probate process is complete, the court will issue a final decree of distribution. This decree will list all of the assets and their value and determine who gets what. If you are a beneficiary of an estate and you do not receive everything that you are entitled to under the law, you can file a claim with the court to ask for your share. However, filing a claim can be complicated and may delay getting your money.
Start the Probate Process in Florida now
If you’re ever in doubt about whether an estate needs to go through probate, we at Casal & Moreno are here to assist you in answering your questions and supporting you through the process. You may reach us at 305-476-5080.