Simplify Your Probate Matter with Perez Conrique Law
Probate & Estate Administration
If you have found yourself faced with a probate-related issue, it is important you work with a knowledgeable attorney who can guide you through the associated legal complexities and ensure your best interests are guarded. At Perez Conrique Law, our probate lawyers help simplify the probate process for clients throughout Florida. From simple estate administration to will contests and beneficiary claims, our team is equipped to handle all will and probate matters with the utmost professionalism and skill. With one-on-one attention and responsive communication, we can help take the guesswork out of the probate system.
What Exactly Is Probate?
Probate is the process through which the estate of a deceased person must pass before it can be distributed to their beneficiaries according to either the terms of their last will and testament or Florida intestate laws if the deceased person did not leave a will.
While this seems relatively straightforward on the surface, the probate process can be notoriously complex and lengthy, especially in instances where a person’s will becomes contested or disputes arise among beneficiaries. Every estate has unique details and varying levels of complexity which require expertise to navigate. Our probate lawyers can provide the assistance you need to ensure you and your loved one’s best interests are protected.
Does all the property of a loved one need to be probated?
Probate administration is required only for property owned by an individual at their death. Some property passes to another person immediately upon the death of the individual and would not be subject to probate. For example, property owned jointly with a spouse, as tenants by the entireties property (as “husband and wife”), or property owned as joint tenant with right of survivorship with another surviving individual, are not subject to probate. Title to property owned as husband and wife or as joint tenant with right of survivorship will pass to the surviving party immediately upon the death of the first party. Property passing by a valid beneficiary designation, such as a life insurance death benefit for a policy insuring the decedent or the balance of property in an IRA or similar retirement account, will also avoid probate. Similarly, assets that are subject to some form of Transfer on Death or Pay on Death designation, will not be subject to probate if the designated beneficiary is still living. This is most commonly seen with financial accounts. Finally, assets that were transferred to a Trust during one’s life time, will not be subject to probate upon death.
Typical probate assets include:
- A bank account or investment account in the sole name of a decedent.
- A life insurance policy, annuity contract, or individual retirement account that does not list a specific beneficiary or is payable to the decedent’s estate.
- Real estate titled in the sole name of the decedent, or in the name of the decedent and another person as tenants in common.
What if the only asset my loved one owned was a car?
In some cases, the only asset that a person owned is the motor vehicle they used or mobile home they lived in. In these situations, Florida law allows the certificate of title to be transferred to the heir or beneficiary of the person, without a formal court proceeding. Provided that the estate is not indebted, which means that the deceased person did not owe debts to creditors which would need to be paid from his or her estate, the beneficiary or heir may apply for a new certificate of title to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and provide an affidavit attesting to certain facts, including that the estate is not indebted.
Types of Probate Administration
There are generally two types of probate administration under Florida law: Formal Administration and Summary Administration.
Formal administration is the most common form of probate proceeding in Florida.
Formal administration involves close court supervision in the collection and distribution of the decedent’s assets. The process has multiple stages and generally involves the following:
- Information gathering and preparing and filing the Petition for Probate.
- Notifying the relevant parties about the filing, including beneficiaries and creditors.
- Assigning authority to the Personal Representative by the Court so that the estate can be administered.
- Administering the estate including, gathering all assets of the decedent, paying debts and taxes and finally, distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries.
- Closing of the case once all assets are distributed.
While the steps in a formal administration may seem straightforward, the process far more complicated especially in larger estates or where there are multiple beneficiaries or multiple creditors. Having an experienced probate attorney to guide you through the process may make the process much more manageable.
Summary Administration is a more simplified probate proceeding and is available in cases when either:
- The value of the estate subject to probate in Florida is not more than $75,000 (Note: Homestead Property is not subject to probate in Florida and is generally not including in the threshold amount of $75,000.00)
- The deceased person passed away more than two (2) years before the probate proceeding is initiated.
How long does probate take?
Florida’s probate process if relatively efficient, however, how long a probate proceeding will take to complete generally depends on the specifics of the particular estate. It’s not uncommon for an estate to be open for a year or more. As a general rule, the more complex and estate, the longer the proceeding will take to complete. Issues that can prolong the length of the proceeding can include the selling of real estate if it needs to be completed before settling the estate, a disputed claim filed by a creditor or an objection or challenge filed by a potential heir.
Summary Administration proceeding can generally be completed much more quickly. While theoretically, in a very simple estate, the process could take a week or two, in our experience, a summary administration takes approximately one to three months, depending on the County the proceeding in filed in. This can happen when the assets are limited and there are no challenges to the estate.
At Perez Conrique Law, our firm is committed to guiding our clients through the probate process as efficiently and as peacefully as possible. If you have questions about Probate, contact our Probate attorneys at 888-510-1255.