Probate Law Attorney

One aftermath of death is grieving families who have recently lost a family member or loved one, and are now faced with the prospect of either probating a will, or when there is no will, trying to determine how assets and title to property pass to the rightful heirs.

Patricia H. Davis is an experienced Probate Law Attorney.  She will keep you informed and guide you throughout the probate process.

WHAT IS PROBATE?

Probate is a court-supervised process for identifying and gathering the assets of a deceased person (decedent), paying the decedent’s taxes and debts, and distributing the remaining assets to a decedent’s beneficiaries.

There are two types of probate administration under Florida law:

1.  Formal Administration:  This proceeding is for estates having a value of over $75,000.00 (excluding exempt property and homestead property) or when a decedent’s will requires a formal administration.

2.  Summary administration: An abbreviated probate procedure which is generally available only if the value of the estate subject to probate in Florida (excluding exempt property and homestead) is less than $75,000, or the decedent has been dead for more than two years.

Another alternative to the formal and summary administration process is:

3.  Disposition of Personal Property without Administration:  This is available only if probate estate assets consist solely of personal property and meet certain requirements under Florida law.

WHY IS PROBATE NECESSARY?

Probate is necessary with a will or without a will to pass ownership of the decedent’s probate assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries. If there is a will it must be admitted as a valid will, by the court or it will be ineffective to pass ownership of probate assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries.  If there is no will, probate is still necessary to pass ownership of the decedent’s estate assets to those persons who are entitled to receive them under the Florida intestacy law.

WHAT ARE PROBATE ASSETS?

Probate administration only applies to probate assets. Probate assets are those assets that the decedent owned in his or her sole name at death, or that were owned by the decedent and one or more co-owners as tenants in common.  It does not include property that was jointly owned with right of survivorship.  It does not include property held “in trust” for another person.

Examples of Probate and Non-Probate Assets:

•A bank account or investment account in the sole name of a decedent is a probate asset, but a bank account or investment account owned by the decedent and payable on death or transferable on death to another, or held jointly with rights of survivorship with another, is not a probate asset;

•A life insurance policy, annuity contract or individual retirement account that is payable to a specific beneficiary is not a probate asset, but a life insurance policy, annuity contract or individual retirement account payable to the decedent’s estate is a probate asset;

•Property owned by husband and wife as tenants by the entirety is not a probate asset on the death of the first spouse to die, but goes automatically to the surviving spouse.

Contact the Law Office of Patricia H. Davis at 904.614-3670 or email Probate Attorney Patricia Davis at pdavis@jaxlawattorney.com to schedule a consultation to learn more about the probate process if someone in your life has passed away.