Probate is the court supervised process of transfering a deceased individual’s property from the decedent’s name to the name(s) of that person’s heirs.
When an individual passes away and they own property in their name only, probate is usually required. Examples of types of property that would not require probate would include:
- A home owned by a married couple at the time of one of the spouses death;
- Life insurance or bank accounts that list a beneficiary on the account; and
- Property owned jointly, with rights of survivorship.
What types of probate proceedings are there?
For small estates (those valued at less than $75,000, not including homestead real property) or when the decedent has been dead for more than 2 years, an abbreviated proceeding called “summary administration” is available. For those estates valued above this amount, a “formal administration” probate proceeding would be required. The formal probate has additional requirements and is a longer process.
Who receives the property once it is probated?
When a Florida resident dies with a will, their will usually controls who receives the property. Some exceptions apply, such as when that person has a spouse that survives them. When someone dies without a valid will (called “intestate”), the Florida statutes determine who will receive the property.
Non-Florida residents who own property in Florida
The location of probate proceedings are determined by the residence of the decedent. When a non-resident passes away and they own property in Florida, a special process called “ancillary administration” is available to allow for the transfer of the property according to that person’s will as administered by the court located in the jurisdiction where they resided. For example, John owned a winter condo in Ft. Meyers, but lived 7 months a year in Toledo, Ohio. His estate will be probated in Ohio, but an ancillary proceeding will be needed in Lee County, Florida to handle the Florida condo.
How much does probate cost?
While many lawyers charge a percentage of the assets of the estate, our firm does not feel that is fair. An estate with $100,000 in assets does not take more work than a $400,000 estate. As such, in most circumstances we charge a flat fee based on the type of probate proceeding needed. Those fees are:
- Formal Administration – $1,500.00 (Does not include situations where there are uncooperative heirs, or when heirs are fighting over who is going to receive certain items.)
- Summary and Ancillary Administration – $750.00
- All court costs and expenses are not included, and must be paid by the estate.
In certain estates, fees may be higher based on factors such as:
- Property located outside of Florida;
- Uncooperative heirs;
- Particularly unque property (artwork, antiques, business entities that require appraisals, etc.)
- Litigation with a surviving spouse.
Our main office is in Lakeland, Florida, with a satellite office in St. Petersburg. However, we serve clients throughout the state of Florida and abroad.
If you have any questions regarding elective share rights, financial exploitation or contesting of a last will and testiment, trust or other asset transfer, Call Today! For a FREE Consultation with Michael T. Heider.
Mr. Heider’s Resume:
- BS in Finance from Florida Southern College, 2002
- JD, University of Florida Levin College of Law, 2006
- Licensed Certified Public Accountant in Florida
- Member in good standing with the Florida bar (no disciplinary history)
- Member Florida Bar Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section
- Member American Bar Association
The Law Offices of Michael T. Heider, P.A. provide estate planning and administration, asset protection and elder law issues planning throughout the Tampa Bay/Lakeland areas. After completing his bachelor of science degree in finance, with honors, at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Mr. Heider graduated from the University of Florida Levin College of Law and was admitted to practice law in Florida in 2006. Prior to practicing law, Mr. Heider was a licensed securities broker with Platinum Financial Planning in Lakeland, Florida. Mr. Heider currently serves as the treasurer for Polk County Family Caregivers, an organization devoted to helping those care for the elderly and persons with special needs.