Probate is a legal process through which the assets of a deceased person are properly distributed to the heirs or beneficiaries. The Court oversees the estate to make sure debts are paid and proper distribution is made.
A will is a document which, among other things, indicates how a person wants his or her property to be distributed after death. The will generally recommends a personal representative to administer the estate. A will does not, however, transfer the title to real property.
After the death of the person, the custodian of the will must file the original will and supply the testator's date of death or social security number to the Clerk of the Court in the county in which the person was a legal resident. This should be done within ten days after receiving information that the person is deceased. (per 732.901 - Production of Wills)
Probate is necessary when a court order is required to transfer or distribute the assets of the estate. Probate is not needed if all assets were jointly held and one of the joint holders is the survivor.
Formal Administration is used when there are considerable assets or other special circumstances. There will be a personal representative appointed and letters of administration will be issued so that he or she may complete the administration. An attorney must file these proceedings. Summary Administration may be filed when the value of the entire estate does not exceed $75,000. The Clerk has forms for you to file the Summary Administration with or without will. Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration is filed to request release of assets to the person who paid the final expenses, such as funeral bills or medical bills for the last 60 days. You may qualify for this procedure if you meet all three of the following:
If the Court approves of the release of the decedent’s assets, a letter on judge’s stationery will be prepared. The petitioner must then take the original letter to the company/institution in possession of the asset(s). The Clerk’s Office can assist you in this proceeding.
The property will be distributed in accordance with the provisions of Sections 732.101 and 732.106, Florida Statutes.
A living will is a document in which an individual states what medical measures he wants taken or withheld in the event of terminal illness or permanent unconsciousness. This document is not deposited with the Clerk’s Office. See Florida Statutes Chapter 765 Part III (Section 765.301, etc.)
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