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When is Probate Required in Florida?

lawyer discussing about probate

Probate is the court process of administering a deceased person’s estate. In Florida, you may need a probate attorney to help get through this process.

If your estate does have to be probated, it is not unusual that the tasks required for probate are confusing or overwhelming. Most of the tasks required in probate fall on the shoulders of the estate’s Personal Representative, also known as the Executor or Administrator. Imagine if your  personal representative is your grieving spouse or adult child. They may find it overwhelming to fulfill requirements without the help of a Probate attorney.

In Naples Florida, if you are tasked with fulfilling the requirements for probate court, you may want to take advantage of using James Nici, an experienced Naples probate attorney.

What Assets Avoid Probate in Florida?

Certain assets avoid probate and pass directly to their new owner. There is no court involvement. There are ways to structure your estate plan to minimize the possible entanglements and process of probate. In some cases, assets can avoid probate all together or the estate can qualify for simplified probate procedures. In order to plan ahead to avoid the hassle of probate, it is important to take steps to create an estate plan with that in mind. Trusts are a smart way to pass assets onto beneficiaries directly without involving the probate court.

Common examples of non-probate property in Naples, Florida include:

• Assets held in a trust such as real estate property and bank account funds;
• Property held in joint tenancy with rights of survivorship;
• Assets held in beneficiary accounts (for example, retirement accounts, life insurance proceeds, pensions, and POD or TOD accounts);

If the deceased person’s estate only consists of non-probate property, you may be able to avoid probate entirely.

Do Estates With Very Little Assets Have to Be Probated in Florida?

Very small estates do not need to go through probate in Naples. Instead, Florida has a special procedure called “disposition without administration” for estates with very little property.

An estate qualifies for “disposition without administration” if:

1. The deceased did not leave any real estate (regardless of its value); and

2. The only assets in the estate include:

• Exempt personal property (defined as household goods or furnishings up to $20,000 in value, two vehicles, 529 accounts, qualified tuition plans, and certain teacher retirement benefits);

• Personal property up to $1,000 in value; and

• Other property whose value does not exceed what is owed in final expenses (reasonable funeral expenses up to $6,000, medical expenses of the deceased’s final illness within the last 60 days of their life, and up to $10,000 in other property).

There are additional requirements to qualify for disposition without administration if the deceased died without a will (intestate): the deceased must be dead for more than one year, and there must be no probate proceeding pending in Florida.

What are the Benefits of Avoiding Probate in Florida?

There are multiple reasons why an individual would want to avoid probate in Florida. Four of the most common benefits of avoiding probate are listed below. In order to minimize or avoid probate, you will need to set up certain estate planning tools like a trust as part of your plan.

• Privacy. Probate is a public record. Anyone can access probate documents and learn intimate details about your estate assets and their distribution.

• Quicker. Probate takes months, if not years, to complete in Naples depending on the size and complexity of the estate. Non-probate assets pass immediately after death without court oversight.

• Less Expensive. Probate requires court filing fees, attorneys’ fees, and administration fees (appraiser’s fees, accounting fees, etc.). The entire probate process can end up costing thousands of dollars.

Fewer Challenges. As a part of the probate process, interested parties can contest the validity of the will and bring other challenges. Legal battles are expensive and can take years to resolve.

Call a Naples Probate Lawyer

If you have questions about how to avoid probate or need help with the probate process, you should contact Nici Law Firm. James R. Nici is an experienced Naples estate planning attorney with over 25 years of experience so he can help you create a plan that minimizes the effect of probate on your estate. He also has experience guiding clients through the process of probate in Florida. Contact our office today at (239) 449-6150 or use our web form to set up a free consultation.

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