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What Is Probate?

Probate is a court-supervised process used to identify and gather the decedent’s assets; pay taxes, claims, and expenses; and to distribute assets to beneficiaries. The Florida Probate Code is found in Chapters 731 through 735 of the Florida Statutes.

There are two types of probate administration in Florida:

  1. Formal Administration
  2. Summary Administration

Florida law also establishes a non-administration proceeding called “Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration.”

What Are Probate Assets?

Probate assets are those assets solely in the decedent’s name at time of death or otherwise owned solely by the decedent and which contain no provision for automatic succession of ownership at death. For example:

  1. A bank account in the sole name of a decedent is a probate asset, however, but a bank account held in-trust-for (ITF) another, or held jointly with rights of survivorship (JTWROS) with another, is not a probate asset;
  2. A life insurance policy, annuity or individual retirement account that is payable to a specific beneficiary is not a probate asset, but a policy payable to the decedent’s estate is a probate asset;
  3. Unless it is homestead, real estate titled solely to the decedent is a probate asset, but real estate held as joint tenants with rights of survivorship or as tenants by the entirety is not a probate asset;
  4. Property owned by husband and wife as tenants by the entirety is not a probate asset on the death of the first spouse to die, but goes automatically to the surviving spouse.

Why Is Probate Necessary?

Probate winds up the affairs the decedent leaves behind after death. It allows the transfer of assets from the decedent to the proper beneficiary. Florida law provides for all aspects of the probate process, but with a valid will, the decedent can dictate certain decisions.

At Kovar Law Group we are well-versed in dealing with these matters and are proficient in gathering the required evidence to secure the best outcome possible. Schedule a free consultation with Kovar Law Group today.

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