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When you need estate administration in Florida

Planning for the end of a life is always a difficult process, navigating emotional and legal complexity. This is why many prefer to have an attorney represent their interests and identify all the ways to save taxes and make sure property goes to the right people.

When a person passes away, his or her property will go to individuals or entities called beneficiaries. Anything that the person owned with another person who is still alive or organization that still exists reverts to that entity without the opening of an estate.

Life insurance benefits, pensions and other financial instruments that have designated beneficiaries should go directly to the identified beneficiaries, and also do not require the opening of an estate under Florida law.

Probate is necessary to deal with any property that the person owned alone and for which there was no legal designation. Probate is a process, overseen by the court, which identifies the decedent's assets, pays necessary taxes and debts, and distributes property to beneficiaries.

If the probate assets are valued at less than $75,000 and the possessor has been dead for more than two years, Florida allows for a summary probate that is a faster and simpler process than formal administration. This process may not be an option if the person had unresolved debts.

Formal administration requires a personal representative to be appointed by the court. This person will be responsible for settling any remaining debts and make sure that property and assets are distributed to the proper beneficiaries.

Source: FindLaw, "Florida Estate Procedures," accessed Oct. 18, 2017

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