If a person owns property in Florida, those items may be subject to probate when he or she dies. Generally speaking, probate applies to those who own assets in their own name or who receive wages or other payments after they die. In some cases, it may be possible to prove that an item being held in a person’s estate actually belongs to another person. In such a scenario, it may not need to be included in a probate proceeding.
Any item that is not included in a living trust may be included in a probate case regardless of its significance. For instance, a gold watch, kitchen utensils or other small household items may need to be included in a probate estate. If an asset is jointly owned with other individuals who are still alive, the deceased owner’s share doesn’t always automatically transfer to the surviving owners.
Depending on how an estate plan is structured, the deceased person’s share may be transferred in accordance with a will or trust. It may also be transferred in accordance with state intestacy laws. Assets that don’t have a named beneficiary are usually paid to a deceased person’s estate. For instance, a life insurance death benefit may be paid directly to an estate, and this would mean that it is subject to probate.
Those who are serving as estate executors may find that it’s easier to fulfill their fiduciary obligations with the assistance of a probate and estate administration attorney. An attorney may be able to defend the estate against claims made by creditors or legal challenges presented by family members. This may allow an estate to be settled in less time. In many cases, executors can shield themselves from liability by relying on the guidance of a probate attorney.