What is Probate?

Probate is a court-supervised process for identifying and gathering the assets of a deceased person, paying the decedent’s debts and distributing the decedent’s assets to his or her beneficiaries.

What is an Estate?

In Florida, whenever someone passes away, that person’s property immediately becomes property of that person’s “estate.”   Florida law has provided that legally, there is never any gap in ownership of any property (land, cars, jewelry, boats, etc.).  It does not matter if the person is very wealthy or not: when anyone dies in Florida, automatically, a legal estate is created.

That estate is meant to be temporary, to help change title to deeds and other proofs of ownership, among other things. The process of transitioning the property from the estate to the heirs or beneficiaries that survive the person who has just died is called “probate.”In Florida, there are specific courts set up just to deal with probate matters. The person who died is in legal terms called a “decedent.”

What are Probate assets?

Probate assets are those assets that were owned in the decedent’s sole name at death, or that were owned by the decedent and one or more co-owners and lacked a provision for an automatic transfer of ownership at death.

Is Probate necessary?

Probate is necessary to pass ownership of the decedent’s probate assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries unless every asset has a direct succession or transfer of ownership. If the decedent had no will, probate may be necessary to pass owners7hip of the decedent’s probate assets to those persons who are to receive them under Florida law.  A will does not automatically transfer ownership of property; therefore, probate may be necessary for you to legally obtain the ownership of what your loved ones wanted to pass to you.

What Steps do I Take When A Loved One Dies?

After contacting a funeral home, someone should contact the social security administration to let them know of the person’s death in order to cease paying benefits (usually, the funeral home will take care of this for you). Additionally, someone should take possession of the credit cards, driver’s license, bills, bank account statements and possibly have the mailed forwarded. Other suggestions include, gathering tax returns and insurance policies.

Florida Law requires that the custodian of a will must deposit the will with the clerk of the court within 10 days after receiving information of the death. Then, any person named in the will, or any interested person, can petition the Court for appointment as the personal representative of the estateIf there is no will, Florida law sets forth who will receive the assets of the estate and who can serve as the personal representative.

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