Which Property Must Pass Through the Florida Probate Process?
When someone dies and leaves behind a will, that person’s property typically must go through the probate process, an official procedure for gathering the estate’s assets, paying the estate’s debts and then distributing the remaining property in accordance with the will. Not all property, however, is subject to this process.
Property that passes through the probate process, called probate assets, generally includes assets solely owned by the deceased person, known as the decedent. These assets can be real estate, bank accounts, retirement accounts and even life insurance policies if they are payable to the decedent’s estate. Probate assets may also include assets such as cars, business holdings and investments. Most of the contents of the decedent’s home, such as furniture, coin collections and jewelry, will fit into this category unless it is jointly owned by the decedent’s spouse.
Types of property that can bypass the probate process include:
- Joint bank accounts
- Bank accounts payable to a specific person on death
- Life insurance policies that are payable to a beneficiary
- Property co-owned by a spouse
- Assets placed into a living trust
- IRAs and other retirement accounts
These assets and any other property considered to be held in joint tenancy with a right of survivorship will pass directly to the co-owner when the decedent dies. No court process is needed; these transfers can often take place as soon as there is a death certificate.
If you have been chosen as an estate’s personal representative, you don’t have to go through the probate process alone. For assistance probating or settling an estate, speak with a trusted Florida estate planning attorney at the Charles Law Offices.