What is Exempt Property and How is it Relevant to Probate?

When a person passes away, it is not uncommon for creditors to file claims against their estate. Typically, these claims will be filed by creditors who are attempting to collect a debt owed to them by the decedent. Oftentimes, you may not be aware that your loved one was indebted, and creditors may attempt to make claims against property or other assets in the estate. Fortunately, Florida’s  Probate laws include safeguards that are meant to protect your family from creditors making claims against your estate. One such safeguard is the Exempt Property statute, which protects your children and spouse during the process by excluding certain property against creditor claims.

What does “Exempt” mean?

Generally, creditors can collect most or all the debt by making claims against the assets and property being administered during the Probate process. In the context of Florida probate administration, any property that is Exempt cannot be touched by the creditors filing claims against the estate.

What Qualifies as Exempt Property?

It is important to note that not all property or assets can qualify as exempt property and be shielded from the reach of creditors. Section 732.402 of the Florida Statutes provides a list of property that can qualify as exempt property, which includes:

  • Up to two motor vehicles, owned by the decedent and that was regularly used by the decedent or members of the decedent’s family, each of which cannot weigh more than 15,000 pounds;
  • household furnishings, furniture, and appliances kept in the decedent’s home, up to $20,000 in net value as of the date of the decedent’s death;
  • certain tuition programs.

There are also exceptions to the rule governing which property falls within the exempt category. Property that would otherwise qualify as exempt, which the decedent specifically devises to another person who is not his or her spouse or child, will pass as non-exempt property. In other words, if the decedent specifically devises his or her motor vehicle to a close friend, then the motor vehicle no longer falls within the category of exempt property and loses its protection against creditors.

Contact Us Today

When it comes to administering an estate in Florida, there are several complex rules involved. There are many factors the beneficiaries and Personal Representatives of an estate must consider so that the estate’s assets are properly distributed. If you have recently lost a loved one, and have any questions concerning what your next steps should be, your best option is to contact an experienced Florida probate attorney.

The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm has a team of experienced Probate, Family, and Estate Planning attorneys located in Coral Gables, Florida. As attorneys who have extensive knowledge in Probate, we understand it can be a time-consuming and complicated process. If you currently have questions regarding a probate issue, contact us to set up an appointment to evaluate your options. We serve the entire state of Florida so call us for a consultation.