Ultimate guide to probate in Florida

Florida probate is not always easy, but this guide will break down the process and answer commonly asked questions about probate in Florida.

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What is probate in Florida?

Probate in Florida is the process of settling an estate through a court-supervised, formal proceeding. If there is a Will present, probate validates it. It’s also the process that appoints an executor who will manage settling the estate. Once all debts and any taxes have been paid, assets left in the estate will be distributed to beneficiaries. 

Florida is 1 of 16 states that have attempted to unify the probate process by adopting the Uniform Probate Code (UPC).


How much does probate cost in Florida

Probate fees in Florida can widely vary, making the cost range considerably. Certain fees will generally be expected though, including:

  • Filing fees

  • Appraisal fees 

  • Survey fees 

  • Accounting fees

  • Attorney fees, if you use a probate attorney

  • Executor compensation

Additionally, Florida probate fees most often include what’s known as an Executor/Probate Bond. Most Florida county courts require these bonds. Finally, Florida is what’s known as a reasonable compensation state, which means that there will be fees to compensate the executor.

Not sure if you need to go through probate? Need help probating the estate of a loved one? Learn more about Probate with Trust & Will.

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Dying without a Will in Florida

If you die without a Will in Florida, it’s called dying or passing intestate. When this happens, state law will dictate how the decedent’s estate is distributed. 

Florida intestate succession laws state that property can be distributed to:

  • Spouses

  • Registered domestic partners

  • Blood relatives

Assets will pass in a specific order, according to Florida state law:

  • Surviving spouse

  • Children

  • Grandchildren

  • Parents

  • Siblings

  • Grandparents

  • Uncles and aunts

  • Additional extended family

In Florida, assets that don’t require going through probate can pass directly to beneficiaries. For example, non-probate assets can include things like:

  • Anything inside a Trust

  • Proceeds from life insurance policies that have a properly named beneficiary

  • Retirement account funds in IRAs, 401ks, IRA, etc.

  • Accounts titled Transfer on Death (TOD) 

  • Accounts titled Payable on Death (POD)

  • Property that’s jointly titled with right of survivorship


How to start probate in Florida

Starting probate in Florida first means contacting the appropriate probate court. Then, you’ll need to:

  • Be appointed as the personal representative.

  • Give the Will to the court (if there is one).

  • Take inventory of all assets.

  • Determine and submit valuations of those assets to the court.

  • Allow the court and beneficiaries to approve assets and valuations.

  • Pay debts the estate owes.

  • File and pay any taxes that the estate may owe.

  • Distribute anything that’s left in the estate to the appropriate heirs.

In Florida, personal representatives also may need to:

  • Open a checking account in the estate’s name

  • Obtain an EIN for tax purposes

  • Read and understand the provisions of the Will

  • Communicate regularly with beneficiaries

  • Notify any creditors of the decedent’s passing

  • Learn all deadlines that are associated with the Florida probate process

  • Pay all final expenses and bills

  • File a tax return  

  • Submit a death certificate

  • Keep all receipts of payments made and debts that are paid off

  • Close the estate at the end of the process

Still need estate settlement help? Learn more about Probate with Trust & Will.

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Commonly asked questions about probate in Florida

When is probate required in Florida?
Probate is almost always required in Florida, but occasionally an estate can be settled without it. Small estates, estates where everything is held in a Trust, and other strategic planning may allow an estate to be settled without the probate process.
How long does the probate process take in Florida?
The probate process in Florida can take from 6 to 9 months for a basic, uncomplicated estate. Very complex estates, or those that have been contested by beneficiaries, can take much longer. Simple estates or informal probate, however, can be a much faster process.
Probate forms in Florida
There are several forms you’ll fill out while going through probate in Florida.

The most important ones include– Certificate of Filing Will; Petition of Probate; Notice to Creditors; Bond/Waiver of Bond; List of Interested Persons; Filing Inventory/Appraisal; Ongoing/Annual Accounting Records; Notice to Beneficiaries; Filing to close probate; and Release of Liability/Responsibility.
Do I need a probate attorney in Florida?
In Florida, you are not required to hire a probate attorney to help you through the process. That said, if you’re dealing with an estate that’s particularly complex, or if you have beneficiaries who are contesting any part of the asset distribution, a lawyer might be something to consider.

You can definitely fill out and file all the probate forms on your own, but in some cases, legal counsel can save you money, time, and stress.
What are the types of probate in Florida
Types of probate can vary by state, but in Florida there are two types of probate administration–formal administration (for complex estates) and summary administration (for simpler estates).

Additionally, there’s a proceeding known as a disposition of personal property without administration. This allows you to distribute an estate in an unsupervised manner. Note that this option is very limited.
What are the probate deadlines in Florida
It’s essential that you know and meet all deadlines for Florida probate. Things will move quickly, and the state doesn’t want courts to become backed up, so starting the process as soon as possible is smart.

Taking note of the following Florida probate deadlines will help you close out the estate as quickly as possible.

10 days after finding out about the death – Time allowed to file the original Will.

30 days/3months/2 years – Time allowed for a creditor claim.

6 months/2 years – Time allowed to object to a Will’s validity.

6 months from date of death – Time allowed for a Tenants in Common (TIC) election.

1 - 3 years – Time allowed for an executor to keep an estate open. Note that this can be longer if there’s any litigation involved.

Note: the most common mistake Personal Representatives make is failure to properly notify creditors.