Executing a Last Will & Testament before you pass away is a responsible thing to do. Having a valid Will make it easier for your loved ones to carry out your last wishes during the grieving process, but having a Will does not mean your estate will avoid probate. In fact, having a Will guarantees that your estate will go through the probate process in order for the estate assets to be distributed to your beneficiaries.Which Assets Go Through Probate
Only those assets owned solely by the deceased individual will go through the probate process before being distributed to the beneficiaries. Any assets that are owned jointly with rights of survivorship or jointly between husband and wife (joint tenants by the entirety) will automatically pass to the joint owner without the need for probate. However, assets that are owned as tenants in common must go through the probate process in order to be transferred to the intended beneficiary.
Value of Estate
In Florida, estates valued over $75,000 must go through the formal probate process. In a formal probate, a personal representative is appointed by the court to transfer the estate assets to the intended beneficiaries. Formal probate typically takes Florida law requires that the personal representative be represented by an attorney during the formal probate process.
For estates with assets valued under $75,000, the summary probate process is generally used. The summary probate process is typically a shorter process than formal probate, but it is still a highly technical area of law that most individuals find troublesome to navigate on their own without a Florida probate attorney.
No Beneficiaries Named
Beneficiaries are often named on life insurance policies and retirement accounts. However, if no beneficiaries named or all of the beneficiaries predeceased the owner of the accounts, the accounts will be subject to probate in order to transfer the assets.
Throughout the probate process, it may feel like the court has all the control over your loved one’s estate and their assets. Having an experienced probate lawyer on your side can make a significant, positive impact and bring peace of mind for the deceased individual’s loved ones during the grieving process.
For more information about the probate process, contact our St. Petersburg probate lawyer at Finely Williams Law, PA today.