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Florida Probate: Not as Awful as People Tell You

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Probate certainly has a bad reputation with people who have heard that the process is difficult or of instances where family members are fighting over assets and/or challenging the will. While family battles certainly exist, it’s not a factor in every probate. Many probates run smoothly, especially with the right personal representative running things. In addition, choosing the right Florida probate attorney makes a huge difference. Your attorney is the one who will help guide you through this process or tell you whether your position is justified if you are contesting the will.

Small Estate Versus Large Estate

There may be some situations where you can open a small-estate probate, which is even faster and easier than a traditional large-estate probate. In some cases, smaller estates may qualify for a shorter version of probate, which is known as Summary Administration. The estate value has to be less than $75,000. This amount doesn’t include the value of the decedent’s protected homestead real estate. There are ways where an estate that appears slightly larger may still qualify thanks to homestead exemptions. This is one of the reasons retaining a West Palm Beach probate attorney is so important.

Probate Administration Only Applies to Probate Assets 

Just because the decedent had assets, it doesn’t necessarily mean that every single one is going through probate – only the assets that were owned by the decedent in his or her sole name at death, or assets owned by the decedent and one or more co-owners, but there is no provision for automatic succession at death. Some examples where an asset may not be subject to probate include:

  • Life insurance policies or an individual retirement account that has a specific beneficiary listed. If the life insurance policy names the decedent’s estate as the beneficiary, then it would need to be included in probate.
  • An investment or bank account that is in the decedent’s name only is subject to probate. However, if the account is payable on death or transferable on death to someone else, or is held jointly with the right of survivorship to someone else, then it would not be included in the probate.
  • Any property owned by spouses as tenants by the entirety would not be included in probate as it would automatically go to the surviving spouse.
  • Real estate that is titled in the decedent’s name with one or more persons as joint tenants with rights of survivorship would not be included in probate.

Other Factors That Can Ease the Process of Probate

There are a number of factors that can help progress the probate in a timely manner. Some of these include:

  • Competent personal representative — If the personal representative appointed does a good job, you may not feel that probate is as bad as it’s made out to be.
  • Happy family members — the biggest concern and delay with any probate is when family members contest the will or some other aspect of probate.
  • Type of assets — The assets being included in the probate can make a huge difference as well. If they are complex and need special valuation, it can take longer and certainly cost more if you need an expert to provide a valuation.

Contact a Florida Probate Attorney

If you have questions and/or need to open a Florida probate administration, contact Larry E. Bray, P.A. today to schedule a consultation.

Resource:

floridabar.org/public/consumer/pamphlet026/

https://www.braylawoffices.com/what-is-summary-probate-in-florida/

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