Florida Probate Administration
The personal representative of the Last Will and Testament, also known as the executor, is the party responsible for the administration of the decedent’s probate estate. This process includes collecting the decedent’s assets, filing the decedent’s final tax returns and inventory; paying any debts or taxes owed, distributing the remaining assets in accordance with the provisions of the will and notifying the appropriate parties of the decedent’s death.
If the decedent created a Trust then the trustee is responsible for implementing the terms of the trust and filing a Notice of Trust with the court.
Types of Probate Procedures in Florida
This procedure is required for estates involving more than $75,000.00. It is a court supervised proceeding where a will is admitted, a personal representative is appointed, Notice of Administration is sent to interested persons (surviving spouse, beneficiaries, etc.) and a Notice to Creditors is published to identify known creditors and sent to all know creditors. After the expiration of ninety days creditors who fail to file a Statement of Claim loose their right to collect on the decedent’s debt. Assets are collected, debts and taxes are paid and after the distribution of Estate assets is make the Estate is closed. Upon closing the Estate the personal representative is relieved of all duties and liabilities to the Estate.
This procedure may be utilized if the value of the estate is less than $75,000.00 or if the decedent is dead for more than two years. The persons who receive the estate assets remain liable to creditors of the decedent for two years after date of death unless a Notice to Creditors is published.
All of a decedent’s assets together make up their estate. For estate tax reporting purposes the IRS defines estate as the total collection of a decedent’s assets whether or not they pass through probate. After an estate’s assets have been valued, if the decedent’s gross estate exceeds the federal estate tax credit exemption amount, then a Form 706 (Estate Tax Return) must be filed with the IRS and a copy forwarded to the Florida Department of Revenue.
An estate that does not require a probate administration will still need to be settled. There are documents that need to be filed, debts and taxes to be paid and assets to be distributed. Estate Administration is the process where the decedent’s total estate, including both probate and non-probate assets, is settled. Probate assets are properties that were owned by the decedent that were not owned “jointly” with survivorship rights by another. Non-probate assets are property held in a revocable trust, joint assets, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, annuities, homestead property, automobiles, boats, etc. Some assets do not go through probate but are considered part of the estate for federal estate tax purposes.
Real Estate almost always requires some sort of probate or other legal steps to be taken after the owner passes away. This is because title to real estate in Florida is based upon a “chain of title” in the county records, and title insurers want to be sure exactly who inherited the property without requiring an order of probate court.