Finding out that your loved one’s estate must go through probate can be overwhelming. For many, not knowing what to expect makes the probate process seem more intimidating than necessary.
While many assets need to go through the probate process before distribution to beneficiaries/heirs, there are some important exceptions.
Here’s what you should know about the assets that are (and are not) subject to probate.
The probate process ensures that your loved one’s valid debts are paid according to Florida law before distributing the remaining assets to beneficiaries/heirs. When it is time for the estate to pay outstanding obligations, the probate process determines all potential probate assets, except for property with a named beneficiary or rights of survivorship, such as:
- Retirement accounts
- Life insurance payouts
- Real estate with a surviving co-owner, depending on the type of ownership
- Bank accounts with a “pay on death” designation
These types of assets, and some not specifically mentioned here, can potentially go directly to a beneficiary without passing through probate. This means that a claimant/creditor generally is not paid from these exempted assets even if there are valid claims/debts payable by the estate.
Supporting the process
During probate, one of the first steps will be to evaluate what assets are part of the estate, and if any of those assets are potentially exempt from the valid claims of creditors. When there is a surviving spouse, there will likely be assets that pass directly to the decedent’s spouse without going through probate. However, there could still be exemptions and/or exceptions to probate administration even if there is no surviving spouse.
It is essential to have skilled legal support as you administer your loved one’s estate through probate. An experienced professional can answer your questions and streamline the process.