Dealing with the loss of a loved one or close friend can be difficult. With emotions running high, you may have a lot on your plate when it comes to handling the final wishes of the recently deceased. Some cases may be forced to go through the probate process as a way to finalize the estate. By understanding the process, you can help to prepare yourself and others for what is to come.

The probate process is designed to accomplish the following:

  • Pay any debts and/or expenses left by the estate
  • Distribute the assets and property to beneficiaries named in the will
  • Track down the beneficiaries
  • Protect the estate from theft or vandalism during the probate process

All states have unique probate laws and regulations. In Florida, there are two types of probate, formal and summary administration. Only the assets that are in the sole name of the deceased are eligible for division. This includes bank accounts, life insurance policies and real estate that has only the decedent’s name on the title. Any assets and/or property in a revocable trust or a living trust does not go through probate, but is directly transferred to the beneficiary upon death. This is also true with property that has two title holders. If one title holder should pass, the other inherits the property.

Formal probate administration is involved when the estate’s value exceeds $75,000 and it has been two years or less since the passing. Administration probate, on the other hand, occurs when the decedent has been gone for more than two years and/or the value of the estate is less than $75,000.