Frequently Asked Questions About Florida Probate
Particularly in the state of Florida, the term “probate” is something you should become very familiar with very quickly. Understanding the probate process and how to navigate it can have huge effects on your estate and should inform how you go about building your estate plan. Whether you are a newly appointed personal representative of an estate, or just beginning to investigate estate planning for yourself, these are some of the most high-level issues that often come up as people seek to better understand the probate process in Florida.
What is Probate?
Probate is the term used for the court process of transferring the ownership of a deceased person’s assets – including cash, property, etc. – to the people who are found to be legally entitled to them. This administration of the estate allows for items to pass on to new ownership. A Florida probate attorney is a professional who understands the many tenets of this process and can help you navigate through the various steps. Through the course of probate an attorney would file specific documents to the court seeking transfer of assets to their clients. Once all legal requirements have been met, a Judge may order such a transfer.
When is Probate Required?
Probate requirements vary by state. In Florida, an estate will generally have to go through probate whenever a person dies who has something titled in their name (such as a house, or even a bank account.) Probate might also be required if the estate needs a personal representative to come in and handle some matter in the estate. For example, if a person died in an accident, a personal representative might sue the person who caused the accident in the name of the deceased person’s estate.
Does Having a Will Allow My Estate to Skip Probate?
No. A last will and testament is incredibly valuable for a number of reasons. For instance, a last will and testament directs the judge as to who should inherit what assets from the estate. A will does not, however, allow for an estate to avoid the probate process altogether. Even with a last will and testament on hand, the estate would still need to be admitted into probate in order for the judge to transfer title of the assets in accordance with the will.
How Long Does Probate Take in Florida?
The answer to this question varies largely on the details of an individual case. Significant time might be added to a probate process if there are will contests, if assets need to be sold, etc. However, a person should expect that the process will generally take several months to complete.
Can You Avoid Florida Probate?
There are several estate planning tools and strategies that savvy individuals can employ to minimize or even avoid the need to go through the probate process. For example:
- Certain trusts
- “Pay on death” accounts may transfer bank accounts outside of probate
- “Lady Bird deeds” can be used to allow real estate transfers outside of probate.
Contact Suncoast Civil Law
Our legacy is all that matters, at the end of the day. Speak with the experienced Sarasota wills and probate lawyers at Suncoast Civil Law to ensure that you best protect yours for the people who matter most.