Has a loved one died leaving assets in their name?
We can help.


The loss of a loved one is a very difficult situation and it is complicated even further by the sad reality of having to take care of all of the financial matters relating to that individual. The fact of the matter is that usually a departed family member leaves behind many issues and problems that cannot be ignored. In some instances the surviving family members can handle the affairs of their loved one; however, very often, an attorney is needed to probate the estate of the deceased family member.

Probate is the process whereby the Court monitors the gathering of the assets of a deceased individual, the payment of the debts and the distribution of the assets to beneficiaries. Any and all assets that are titled solely in the decedent’s individual name must pass through probate administration.

In Florida, there are three (3) types of probate.

Summary Administration
Summary administration is a “short form” of probate for smaller estates, which is a faster and less expensive method than the “formal administration” used for most probate administrations. Summary administration can include any value of “homestead” as long as the “non-exempt” property is less than $75,000. It can also be used if more than 2 years have passed since the decedent’s death. To file a summary administration with the Court, the family will need the assistance of an attorney.

Formal Administration
For more complex estates, formal administration may be necessary. If the decedent had assets in his or her sole name, and the values exceed those set forth in the previous paragraph, then it is necessary that a full administration be filed with the Probate Court in the County in which the decedent resided. This is a longer process, taking up to more than a year if the estate is taxable and an estate tax return must be filed. Nontaxable estates, however, can normally be closed within five to nine months if there are no complications and if all the assets and debts can be immediately determined and taken care of. If the decedent had a Will, then the individual nominated as the personal representative in the Will must retain an attorney to file the appropriate documentation with the Court in order to receive authority for the personal representative to act in such capacity.

Disposition Without Administration
If an individual dies leaving only personal property exempt under Florida Statute 732.402, no administration will be required. Exempt property includes household furniture, furnishings and appliances in the decedent’s usual place of abode up to a net value of $10,000 as of the date of the death of the decedent, and automobiles held in the decedent’s name and regularly used by the decedent or members of the decedent’s immediate family as their personal vehicles. A disposition without administration is intended to eliminate the need for the assistance of an attorney. Therefore, in this situation, the family unit should directly contact the Probate Court in the County in which the decedent resided for assistance. Unless there is a disagreement over the distribution of the personal property, there is no need to take any action requiring an attorney.

The probate rules of Florida are very complicated and the entire process is conducted under the supervision of the Court. The Probate Rules of Court require every guardian and every personal representative, unless the personal representative is the sole interested person, to be represented by an attorney admitted to practice in Florida.

Florida has many highly qualified probate attorneys who can help guide you through this complex and difficult time. If you would like to discuss the administration of your loved one’s estate, please call The Hook Law Group to schedule a consultation.