SURVIVING FLORIDA SPOUSE ENTITLEMENTS:
A surviving Florida spouse has a legal entitlement to the following: (i) the right to "homestead real property" (or at least a life estate in the decedent's residence), (ii) the right to an "elective share" (30% of the decedents estate), (iii) the right to take as a "pretermitted spouse" (under Florida intestacy law), (iv) the right to a "family allowance," (v) the right to "exempt property," and (vi) priority in preference in serving as the Personal Representative of the Florida decedent's estate.
What is a Florida Probate Asset: Florida probate law defines a "Florida probate asset" as real (real estate, vacant land, etc.) or personal (stocks, bonds, bank account, etc.) property (i) titled solely in a Florida decedent's name at their time of death, and (ii) contains no provision for automatic succession of ownership at death (in-trust for account, pay-on-death) or held jointly with rights of survivorship with another individual. A life insurance policy, annuity or retirement account with a designated beneficiary will not be classified as a Florida probate asset (unless all of the designated beneficiaries are no longer alive).
Florida Probate Process: Sarasota and Manatee County Florida probate proceedings are a court supervised process for identifying and gathering a Florida decedents assets, paying federal and state income taxes, paying creditor claims, and ultimately distributing the decedent's assets to his or her beneficiaries or heirs. A Sarasota or Manatee County Florida Circuit Court Judge presides over the proceedings. The Florida Probate Code can be found in Chapters 731 through 735 of the Florida Statutes. A Florida probate estate will be administered as testate (decedent died with a valid Last Will and Testament) or intestate (decedent died without a Will).
TYPES OF FLORIDA PROBATE ADMINISTRATION:
Formal Florida Probate Administration: This Florida probate process is required for Sarasota and Manatee County Florida estates valued at over $75,000.00 (excluding the value of Homestead Real Property, Exempt Property, joint and pay-on-death accounts, etc.). It is a court supervised proceeding where: (i) a Florida decedent's Last Will and Testament, if one exists, is accepted by the Florida Probate Judge, (ii) a Florida personal representative is appointed to administer the estate, (iii) Notice of Administration is served on all interested individuals (surviving spouse, beneficiaries, etc.) and (iv) a Notice to Creditors is published to identify unknown creditors and sent to all known creditors. After the expiration of Florida creditor claims period (ninety days) creditors who fail to file a Statement of Claim loose their right to collect on the decedent’s debt. Once all estate assets are collected, debts and taxes are paid and after the distribution of estate assets is made to the beneficiaries, the Florida Probate Estate is closed and the Florida personal representative is relieved of all duties and liabilities to the Estate. (Chapter 733 of the Florida Statutes)
Summary Florida Probate Administration: When a Florida probate estate has a value of less than $75,000 this simplified Sarasota and Manatee County Florida probate process may be utilized. Under the Florida probate process the estate beneficiaries must file a petition with the Florida probate court, request the Florida Probate Judge approve the petition and request an order distributing the estate assets. The value of Homestead Real Property, Exempt Property, joint and pay-on-death accounts, Individual retirement accounts, and life insurance are not subject to probate and do not count towards the $75,000 limitation. (Chapter 735 of the Florida Statutes)
Ancillary Florida Probate Administration: Ancillary Florida probate administration is the Sarasota and Manatee County Florida probate process conducted when a Non-Florida resident decedent dies owning Florida real estate in Sarasota or Manatee County. The probate process is required to pass legal title to the estate asset to the estate beneficiary. If probate proceedings are required in the decedent's state of residence an exemplified transcript of the probate documents (Last Will & Testament, Letters of Administration, Order Admiting Will, etc.) and a death certificate will be required to open the Florida ancillary probate proceeding. The Sarasota and Manatee County Florida ancillary probate proceeding can be handled through either the Florida Summary Administration process or the Florida Formal Probate Administration process. Under a formal proceeding a Florida personal representative will be appointed to administer the ancillary probate estate.
SARASOTA & MANATEE COUNTY PROBATE LAWYER
Regardless of the size of the Sarasota or Manatee County Florida probate estate it is important to be guided through the Florida legal process by an experienced Florida probate attorney. I have over two decades of legal experience assisting clients with Florida probate administration (Formal, Summary & Ancillary) in the Sarasota & Manatee County Probate Courts.