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Overview of Probate Administration

Overview of Probate Administration

Probate Administration is the process of settling a person’s estate and distributing assets from a decedent to their beneficiaries. Probate can occur in one of two ways, testate and intestate. Testate probate administration occurs when a person passes away with a last will and testament and/or revocable living trust. Intestate probate administration occurs when a person passes away without any estate planning documents (no known last will and testament). Intestate probate administration generally follows the same rules as testate probate administration but the process can become much more complex and stressful if there is any potential for a beneficiary dispute (which occurs when there are multiple beneficiaries who are interested in controlling the distribution of a decedent’s assets).

In Florida, probate administration can occur in two ways (regardless of whether the decedent passed testate or intestate). Formal administration is required if the decedent passed away with over $75,000 of assets in their name (not including homestead or other exempt assets) and/or it hasn’t been two years since death. Summary administration (a less formal process) can be used where there is $75,000 or less in individual estate assets (exempt property not included) and/or it has been two years or more since death. A formal probate administration can also be converted to a summary administration in very limited circumstances.

Further, there is third type of probate called ancillary probate administration that involves opening a supplementary probate for assets located in a state outside of the state that the original probate was opened. Ancillary probate is usually necessary in the case of real property assets located in different states. To avoid the necessity of ancillary probate, a person can title all of their real property to a revocable living trust or other corporate entity (pending the entity isn’t owned individually by that person).

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