What the Heck?! | Probate Edition

  • What the heck is probate?

Probate is the court-supervised process of identifying and gathering the assets of a decedent, paying the decedent’s debts and distributing the balance of the assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries (testate) or heirs (intestate).

Probate is required in Florida anytime a person dies owning property in his or her individual name.

  • What the heck is a formal probate administration?

A formal probate administration is required when the decedent has been dead for less than two years and when the value of the probate estate exceeds $75,000.  Also, it is advantageous to utilize a formal probate administration if the decedent has many unpaid creditors.

  • What the heck is a summary probate administration?

A summary probate administration may be used for either a Florida resident or non-resident if the decedent’s entire probate estate in Florida, less the value of exempt property, does not exceed $75,000 OR more than 2 years has passed since the date of death.

  • What the heck is Letters of Administration?

Letters of Administration is a legal document, signed by a judge, authorizing a person(s) to act on behalf of a decedent’s estate.  This person is known as the personal representative (otherwise known as executor).  

If a person owned assets in their individual name a the time of their death, Letters of Administration are required in order for the personal representative to transfer assets to an estate for administration purposes.  

  • What the heck is an ancillary probate administration?

An ancillary probate administration is required for non-residents who own property in the state of Florida.  First, a probate administration is opened in the county and state where a person was a resident at the time of their death and then a probate administration can begin in Florida if the decedent owned real property here that needs to be transferred through probate to the beneficiaries of the estate.  

  • What the heck does testate mean?

Testate simply means a person died leaving a valid last will and testament and that document will be presented to the court and admitted as a legal document in which to carry out the decedent’s wishes regarding their distribution of property.  The persons named in the document to receive the assets of the decedent are beneficiaries and have certain rights throughout the probate administration.  

What the heck does intestate mean?

Intestate means that a person died without a valid will and, therefore, the law will determine who the decedent’s heirs are and how their assets are to be distributed.  Those heirs, once determined, also have rights throughout the probate administration.

Most people only have to go through the process of probate once in their lives.  It can be a confusing time and you are not expected to be an expert in the area of probate, that is why there are licensed attorneys like Dena Rogers to help.  Don’t try to do it alone, contact Rogers Law or call (727) 900-5611 to get the process started.