The Florida Courts reported 161,142 probate filings in the 2021-2022 fiscal year. This number represents only the number of people whose estates went through this process and not the number of people who actually died during that time because not every estate goes to probate.
Probate is a legal process that serves to administer a deceased person’s estate, ensuring that the distribution of their assets according to their wishes or, in the absence of a will, according to state law. In Florida, as in many other states, there are specific circumstances that determine when probate must happen.
No valid will
If the deceased person had no valid will, their assets would need to go through probate in Florida. The court will then be able to distribute the property according to the state’s intestate succession laws. Probate is necessary to oversee this distribution process and ensure that it complies with state law.
Disputes or challenges
Even when there is a will or other legal arrangements to bypass probate, disputes or challenges by potential beneficiaries or creditors can lead to probate proceedings. The court’s involvement helps resolve conflicts and ensures correct distribution of the estate.
Assets with no beneficiaries
Certain assets, such as personal property or belongings with no designated beneficiaries, may require probate. This includes items without clear instructions on who should inherit them.
Estate debts and claims
If the deceased person had outstanding debts or legal claims against their estate, probate becomes necessary to address these financial obligations. Probate ensures that creditors have the opportunity to make claims against the estate, and they receive payment from the estate’s assets.
The need for probate often arises when the deceased person does not use strategies to ensure the legal passing of assets upon their death. Understanding what may trigger probate can allow you to set up your estate to bypass the process.