Two people signing estate planning documents in a business setting.

Types Of Probate Law In Florida

Two people signing estate planning documents in a business setting.

People often ask what is probate and why do I need it? Probate is a legal process that takes place after someone dies. If a deceased person had a Last Will or no Will at all, their heirs are required to hire an attorney to manage the probate settlement by the court overseeing distribution of any real estate, property, bank account or other valuables. To accomplish the most effective outcome for settling an estate of a person who has died in Florida, there are different types of probate. The ones discussed within this video are the types of probate administered most often.

Let's look at the differences between them and when one type is used rather than another.

First there is a Formal Administration which is most commonly used. It is the type that most people imagine when they think of probate. It is used when a person has real estate, property, valuables, and other belongings totaling more than $75,000 and died within the past two years. It is not uncommon for a person who has died to have specified formal administration in their Will. Depending upon complexity, a formal administration can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years or sometimes longer to complete.

Next is Summary Administration which generally takes a lot less time to settle an estate than a formal administration and usually is less expensive. It is considered a "short form" of probate for certain smaller estates valued at less than $75,000 or over 2 years after death. Provided there are no unanticipated roadblocks, a summary administration can take as little as a few weeks to a few months for the court to settle the estate.

Finally, there is Ancillary Administration which is the process used when a non-Florida resident dies owning real estate in Florida. This process typically occurs at the same time as the primary probate action in another state or country of residence is being conducted. For example, if a person resided in Michigan when he or she died, the primary probate would be opened in Michigan. If that person also owned property in Florida, the attorney managing the primary probate in Michigan may hire a Florida attorney to administer the probate proceeding in Florida.

Don't leave your family or loved ones facing probate after you are gone. Do the responsible thing for both you and them. Meet with an estate plan attorney now to discuss how probate might be avoided altogether. It could eliminate any need for your loved ones having to pay attorney fees or court costs. It may also reduce or eliminate the rivalry and emotions that surface between family members fighting over what they believe is their just entitlements.