How Probate Laws Work in Florida

If you’ve recently lost a loved one and are now having to deal with their personal items and other parts of their estate, you may wonder what your next steps should be. You must transfer everything that belonged to them to the heirs as outlined in their will. If they didn’t leave a will, you will need to follow the laws for Florida on estates. 

You must go through a process called probate where the courts will oversee the handling of your loved one’s estate according to state law. While probate is similar in all states, each state has its own timelines and statutes that govern the details for how the process should go. It’s important to understand these laws and ensure you follow them. 

Is Probate Required in Florida?

In most cases, probate is required in Florida when someone passes away. The only exceptions is if the estate was in a living trust or if all assets were able to be transferred to a listed beneficiary. If the decedent was the sole owner of the assets or if they were a co-owner with no legal provisions for transfer to the other owners at death, the estate will need to go through probate. 

How Do You Avoid Probate in Florida?

It is possible to avoid taking an estate through probate in Florida. The best way to do this is by setting up a living trust with all the assets of the estate included. After the person dies, the trust beneficiary automatically receives the assets of the trust. Another option is to have a named beneficiary to as many assets as possible. For instance, you can have life insurance policies and retirement accounts listed with a beneficiary who will receive these assets after the owner dies.  

Can an Executor of an Estate in Florida be Compensated?

Florida not only allows for compensation to an executor of an estate, the Florida statutes provide guidelines on how much they are to be paid. An executor isn’t expected to donate their time, but they should keep an accurate accounting of their work and time involved. 

How Much Does an Executor Get Paid in Florida?

Florida Statutes Chapter 733.6171 lays out attorneys’ fees based on the size of the estate. For the first $40,000, the fee is $1500. From $40,000 to $70,000, they receive $2250. From $70,000 to 100,000, the fee is $3000. From that $100,000 to $1 million, the fee is $3000 plus 3 percent of the estate value over $100,000. The next $2 million would allow $3000 plus 2.5 percent over $1 million. If the estate is between $3 and $5 million, the fee is $3000 plus two percent over $3 million. From $5 to $10 million, the fee is $3000, plus 1.5 percent of the value over $5 million. Estates worth $10 million and above would pay at $3000 plus 1 percent of value over $10 million. 

This fee schedule is for ordinary work done by an attorney. If the will is contested or other complications arise, the attorney may charge a higher amount. 

How Long Does Probate Take in Florida?

Probate isn’t a quick process. It can vary on how long the entire process lasts, depending on the size of the estate, how long it takes to locate and inventory all the assets, and if there are any disputes. A general rule of thumb is to expect probate in Florida to take between six months and a year, but be prepared that it may take much longer. 

Do All Estates Have to Go Through Probate in Florida?

Most estates must go through probate in Florida unless they are in a living trust or have a payable or transfer upon death attached or have a named beneficiary. However, there are two types of probate in Florida. They are known as formal administration and summary administration. A third option exists called Disposition of Personal Property without Administration, but it exists in limited situations. This option can only be used when no real property is involved, and the assets are exempt from creditors or are less than final expenses. The summary administration may be used if assets equal no more than $75,000 or the death happened over two years before. 

Does a Will Have to Be Probated in Florida?

Anyone who has possession of a will must file it with the county court after the person dies, according to Florida law. It doesn’t matter whether the estate will need to go through probate. The will must still be validated by the court. 

Settling an Estate in Florida

Settling an estate in Florida is much like in any other state. However, you should pay attention to deadlines and other requirements that may be specific to Florida. 

  • First, someone must file the will and a petition to open probate in the circuit court in the county where the person lived prior to their death. In many cases, an attorney will be required, according to Florida Probate Rule 5.030.
  • The court will approve or appoint an executor for the estate and provide Letters of Administration. Beneficiaries and heirs must be notified of the probate proceedings.
  • The executor must take inventory of all assets and determine their worth. They must also file and pay taxes and any outstanding debts.
  • The executor must provide a final accounting to the court to prove their activities with the estate.
  • The executor distributes the assets and requests that probate be closed.

How Long Do You Have to File Probate After Death in Florida?

The first step in the process, which is filing the will with the court, must be done within ten days of the death of the person. If probate is required, the court will need to validate the will to determine how the assets are to be distributed. 

Probate Court in Florida

Florida has its own probate code, which is found in the Florida Statutes, chapters 731 through 735. The rules which are followed for the proceedings of probate are located in Part I and Part II of the Florida Probate Rules. While the probate process is similar in all states, it is important to know the deadlines and detailed guidelines for Florida. 

Probate Code in Florida

Florida has its own probate code, which is found in the Florida Statutes, chapters 731 through 735. The rules which are followed for the proceedings of probate are located in Part I and Part II of the Florida Probate Rules. While the probate process is similar in all states, it is important to know the deadlines and detailed guidelines for Florida. 

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