Estate Planning And Elder Law Services In Orlando And Beyond

Do wills have to be probated in Florida?

On Behalf of | Oct 13, 2023 | Probate |

When someone passes away in Florida, their will must be filed with the court. The law states that the person who is considered the custodian of a particular will has 10 days to do so. They have to file the document appropriately and within the time limit set out by law or consequences and complications could arise.

Does filing a will mean that it has to be probated? This is when the court assists and/or supervises in the process of distributing assets, paying debts and the like. The law only specifies that a will has to be filed and says that probate occurs “if the probate of a will is initiated,” which isn’t very helpful instructional language.

The necessity of probate depends on the assets that the deceased left behind

The key to questions concerning whether an estate must be subjected to probate involves assessing whether the deceased owned any “probate assets” or not. These are assets that they owned that don’t have any form of automatic succession already attached to them.

For example, perhaps the deceased had a bank account and they were the sole owner of the account. When they passed away, their will specified that the contents of the account should be split between their heirs or beneficiaries. In order to accomplish that aim, the probate process would have to be used unless the account in question is designated as a payable-on-death account. This designation allows someone to choose a beneficiary who will automatically take over control of the account when they pass away, eliminating the need for probate.

Probate is a common process

As one can imagine, many people have different probate assets that they have not yet set up to automatically transfer to a beneficiary whenever they pass away. If all they have done is written a will, then probate will probably be necessary. It may not be legally required, but heirs and beneficiaries still need to know what to expect when it comes to the need for probate. Seeking legal guidance proactively can be helpful in this regard.