In Florida, the estate of any individual who dies owning assets titled solely in his or her name will likely go through probate. The Florida Probate Code has specific statutory rules to determine whether a decedent’s estate is subject to probate.
In this article, you will find out the possible alternatives to probate in Florida.
Probate Proceedings in Florida – The Basics
Summary administration is an expedited form of probate, applied in case the total value of the decedent’s estate subject to probate does not exceed $75,000 or the decedent has been dead for more than two years.
In most cases, the execution of an estate subject to summary administration may conclude within a few weeks.
Conversely, formal administration may require more than six months to complete (even years, if there is litigation involved in the process).
What Are the Alternatives to Probate in Florida? – An Overview
Disposition Without Administration
When a deceased person’s state is particularly small, it may qualify for disposition of property without administration. As provided by Florida Statutes §735.301 (1), “no administration shall be required, or formal proceedings instituted upon the estate of a decedent leaving only:
- Personal property exempt under the provisions of s. 732.402
- Personal property exempt from the claims of creditors under the Constitution of Florida
- Nonexempt personal property the value of which does not exceed the sum of the amount of preferred funeral expenses and reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses of the last 60 days of the last illness”
Under Florida Statutes §732.402 (2), “exempt property shall consist of:
- Household furniture, furnishings, and appliances in the decedent’s usual place of abode up to a net value of $20,000 as of the date of death
- Two motor vehicles (…), which do not, individually as to either such motor vehicle, have a gross vehicle weight in excess of 15,000 pounds, held in the decedent’s name and regularly used by the decedent or members of the decedent’s immediate family as their personal motor vehicles
- All qualified tuition programs authorized by s. 529 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986
- All benefits paid pursuant to Fla. Stat. §112.1915 (educator death benefits)”
A Florida court may authorize the transfer of a decedent’s assets to their rightful heirs under disposition without administration upon determining the eligibility of the estate.
Proving an estate’s eligibility involves submitting supporting documents such as copies of medical bills, funeral bills, and a description of the decedent’s property.
Conveying Property Ownership Upon Death Outside of Probate
It is possible to convey property upon death without necessarily using a will. Under Florida law, certain assets are not subject to probate, which includes:
- Any property titled in the name of a trust
- Any real property held under tenancy by the entirety
- Any real property held under joint tenancy with rights of survivorship
- Retirement accounts (e.g., IRA, 401(k) saving plans, etc.)
- Bank/brokerage accounts owned under joint tenancy
- Payable-on-death (POD) and transfer-on-death (TOD) accounts
- Life insurance or brokerage-related accounts listing a beneficiary other than the owner and the estate itself
The ideal approach is to work with an experienced Florida lawyer to exempt as many assets as possible from probate.
Do You Want to Find Cost-Effective Alternatives to Probate in Florida? – Immediately Contact Jurado and Associates, P.A.
With the guidance of an experienced lawyer from Jurado and Associates, P.A. it is possible to find a strategy to avoid probate. Call us today at (305) 921-0976 or send us an email at [email protected] to schedule a consultation.