Overview of Probate in West Palm Beach, Florida
When a loved one dies, their estate will likely need to go through Florida probate. Probate is a court-supervised process that allows for proper identification and gathering of the deceased’s assets, paying off debts, and finally distributing remaining assets to beneficiaries and entitled heirs. Probate can be a tricky process, which is why you should not attempt to handle it on your own. Instead, let an experienced West Palm Beach probate lawyer help.
At the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray, P.A., we limit our practice to Florida estate planning and probate administration, real estate and business. We understand what a difficult time this is for you and your family. We also know how easy it is for probate to become derailed due to conflicts and disputes between potential beneficiaries. When you have a skilled attorney guiding you through the process, we can help keep probate on track. Unresolved disputes can force probate to drag on unnecessarily and cost the estate money.
Types of Probate Administration in Florida
There are two main types of probate administration in Florida — summary administration and formal administration. Summary administration is a quicker version and available if the person died more than two years ago, or the amount of assets subject to probate is less than $75,000. To start the process, whoever was nominated in the will to be the executor, or anyone who is inheriting property, can file the Petition for Summary Administration. If there is a surviving spouse, they must sign and verify the petition. There is no formal appointment of an executor (known in Florida as a personal representative). The court will look at all the facts to determine whether the estate qualifies and then issue an order. This order will release property to those people entitled to inherit them.
When an estate doesn’t qualify for summary administration, it goes through formal administration. Formal administration will commence when the nominated PR, or another interested party, requests to be appointed as the estate’s personal representative. If the court approves the appointment, they will issue Letters of Administration, which gives the personal representative the legal authority to act on behalf of the estate.
Examples of Assets that May Pass Through Probate
Assets that go through probate are owned in the decedent’s name alone at the time of death or with co-owners that don’t have automatic succession provisions. Examples include real estate titled in the decedent’s name only or a bank account in the decedent’s name only.
What Assets Don’t Pass Through Probate?
Not all assets pass through probate. Some of the most common types of assets that don’t go through probate include:
- Any property held in joint tenancy, such as a house owned by a husband and wife, or a joint bank account shared between two people;
- Assets that are already in a living trust; or
- Assets that have a designated beneficiary, such as a life insurance policy, retirement account, or a POD bank account.
Contact a West Palm Beach Probate Attorney
If you need assistance with a probate administration in Florida, let the experienced West Palm Beach probate team at the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray, P.A., assist. Contact our office today to schedule an initial consultation.