Probate is a court-supervised process to collect the property of someone who has died, pay off whatever debts they owe, and distribute the remainder to their family members and heirs. Several factors determine how long probate takes, but the process could be completed in a few months or a couple of years.
If you were named to administer an estate through probate, or you are an heir wondering when you will receive your inheritance, you probably have questions about asset administration in Kendall probate. A local probate attorney can answer your questions, describe what to expect, and help you through every step of the process.
Asset Administration Depends on the Estate’s Value
When someone dies, the assets they held in their name—like a checking or savings account, a car, or a home—are in limbo. No one else has legal authority to access them. Probate is the way the legal system identifies these assets, uses them to pay the deceased person’s debts, and ensures the heirs and beneficiaries get the property they are entitled to receive.
The property someone leaves behind when they die is called their estate. When the estate has a low value, the probate process can be simple and quick. However, even people of relatively modest means can have complicated estates that must go through probate.
When the value of the assets to pass through probate is less than $75,000, or the deceased died more than two years ago, the estate qualifies for summary administration. According to Florida Statute § 735.203, someone (the executor named in a last will and testament, the surviving spouse, or another relative) must file a petition with the Probate Court seeking summary administration. If the court approves it, the Judge will release the contents of the estate to the heirs. A Kendall attorney can prepare a petition for an estate that qualifies.
When an estate goes through “regular” probate, the court names someone to handle its asset administration. A will, if one exists, names someone to be the executor. If there is no will, the court will appoint someone, usually a family member, to be the estate’s personal representative. The Judge will issue letters of administration to the executor or personal representative, which gives them access to the deceased person’s financial accounts and other property, and authorizes them to settle the deceased person’s debts.
The estate must remain in probate until all claims against it are settled. If the deceased person had a will, it must be filed with the court and anyone objecting to it must formally contest it. Resolving these disputes can sometimes take years. Similarly, if the deceased person had money tied up in real estate or personal property that must be sold to pay their debts, it could take significant time to resolve the estate.
The personal representative makes periodic reports to the court throughout the probate process. When the Judge grants the petition to close the estate, the personal representative distributes the remaining property to the heirs.
Some Assets Do Not Go Through Probate
Only the assets that are held solely in the deceased person’s name are subject to probate. For example, the money in a joint checking account becomes the sole property of the joint owner the moment the person dies; but an investment property with just the deceased person’s name on the title must go through the probate process.
Some assets are always exempt from probate, like a retirement account or life insurance policy. Property that is titled as belonging to joint tenants with a right of survivorship passes immediately to the surviving owner and does not have to go through probate. Property held in a trust does not go through probate because it is owned by the trust, even if the deceased person controlled it until their death. In addition, Florida Statutes § 732.402 exempts the following property from probate:
- Homestead property;
- Furnishings and appliances in the deceased person’s home up to a value of $20,000; and
- Two cars, neither of which can weigh more than 15,000 pounds.
The law allows other limited exemptions from probate. A Kendall attorney could explain whether any of a deceased person’s other assets are exempt.
Many people have some assets that must go through probate and others that do not. Good estate planning keeps as much property out of probate as possible, which reduces expenses, gives heirs the benefit of the property right away, and could have tax advantages in some cases.
Seek Help From a Kendall Attorney Regarding Asset Administration Today
Asset administration in Kendall probate can be time-consuming and stressful. The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm can guide you, whether you are an administrator, a family member, or the beneficiary of a will.
You do not have to go through this without advice and support. Call today for a free case evaluation to speak with a compassionate legal professional.