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.
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:
Attorney fees, if you use a probate attorney
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.
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PROBATE PROCESS STEPS
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
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Commonly asked questions about 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.
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.
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.
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.
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