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Going through the probate process in Florida

On Behalf of | Mar 4, 2024 | Estate Administration & Probate

When a loved one passes away in Florida and leaves behind property, estate beneficiaries may have to go through a legal procedure called probate to identify the deceased person’s assets, pay necessary taxes and debts and distribute the remaining property. Assets with direct beneficiaries need not go through probate. Here is how to determine when you may face this process.

Probate administration in Florida

Florida law recognizes two types of estate administration: summary administration and formal administration. Estate administrators can file for summary administration if assets are valued at less than $75,000 or the decedent passed away more than two years ago. It is not available if the person who passed away still has outstanding debts that haven’t been resolved. If an estate does not qualify for summary administration, the administrator must file for formal administration to transfer assets to designated beneficiaries. This process begins by filing a petition for administration and requesting the appointment of a personal representative, usually the deceased’s executor. The person representative is responsible for probate tasks such as administering the estate, collecting assets, filing paperwork and paying debts.

Probate can become complicated

Even if an estate is small, the probate process can quickly become lengthy, especially if someone dies without a will. Filing for notice of administration and waiting for creditors to file takes three months, but it could take longer if the administrator files objections. Once claims have been paid, the administrator may begin to close the estate. Difficulties can occur in this phase, too, if beneficiaries object to the Final Accounting and Petition for Discharge.

Court requirements can be exacting, and missing deadlines or not including some information can result in delays. Administrators can expect the probate process to take up to two years to complete, including filing a last IRS return for the deceased.