What Happens In A Formal Probate Administration?
When someone passes away, whether they have a Last Will and Testament or not, their estate must go through a process called probate, so as to ensure that the decedent’s wishes are respected (or that the proceeds of the estate are distributed according to Florida law). Some estates may be processed summarily, but the majority of them must go through what is called formal administration. If you have lost a loved one, it can feel confusing to contend with this process, but in the end, it ensures that the estate is able to pass to the beneficiaries free and clear.
What Passes Via Probate?
Florida law recognizes two types of probate administration. Summary administration is an option for estates that are valued at under $75,000, or for estates where the decedent has been gone for at least two years. Formal administration is for all other estates, directed by the district court. It covers all probate assets – any asset owned by the decedent alone, in their own name, at the time of their passing, as well as any other asset that is owned with someone else or that does not have any provision for automatic ownership.
There are some assets that are specifically exempt from probate, which means that provision for transferring ownership has already been made. For example, any assets that are contained in a trust are exempt from probate, because at the time of their passing, the decedent does not own any of those assets – the trust does. That said, the probate process can help ensure that assets pass properly, as well as making sure that any debts still owed at the time of the decedent’s passing are paid.
A Three-Step Process
There are three separate steps in the formal administration process. The first is for the decedent’s personal representative to establish an accounting of the decedent’s estate, meaning that all its assets and debts must be catalogued and presented to the court. The second step is to pay any debts the decedent owed at the time of their passing – generally, the personal representative will issue a notice to creditors, which is filed with the court, served on any known creditors, and published in a local newspaper, so as to reach the widest possible audience. After which, creditors who make themselves known and can establish what they are owed will be paid in order of debt precedence – legally, some must be paid before others.
Once creditors have been paid, the third step in the process is to distribute the remainder of the estate to the decedent’s beneficiaries. If the deceased person died with no will, the court will apply Florida’s intestacy law, which distributes assets in order of a person’s relationship to the deceased. For example, a surviving spouse of someone who died intestate will receive either half or all of the estate, depending on how many other surviving family remain.
Call A Naples Estate Administration Attorney
The administration of a probate estate can seem like an overwhelming endeavor if one tries to go it alone. If you have questions or concerns regarding your own estate, calling a Naples estate administration attorney from Nici Law Firm may be the first step toward ensuring all is how you want it to be going forward. Contact our offices today via our website, or on the telephone at 239-449-6150, to schedule a consultation.