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What is Probate?

In a nutshell, probate is a legal process, which involves the passing of assets from the dead to the living. If there is will, the assets pass to beneficiaries named in that Last Will and Testament. Absent a Last Will and Testament, assets pass to the heirs as specified by Florida law. The process often includes notifying the creditors of the deceased, allowing those creditors to file claims against the estate in hopes of getting paid. Beneficiaries or heirs will receive the remaining assets once all the creditors are paid.


Florida essentially has four types of probate. Which one applies to you, depends on the unique facts of each case.

Why do I Need a Probate?

A probate is necessary for assets that are "probatable".  This is even the case if your loved one has a last will.  Assets subject to probate include:

  • Assets that are not jointly owned by someone other than your loved one; this includes assts such as bank accounts, real estate, and brokerage accounts
  • Real estate which is not titled between a married couple nor titled as joint tenants with rights of survivorship
  • Assets that do not include named beneficiaries upon the death of your loved one; this includes assets such as life insurance policies, IRAs, and 401-K plans

These assets must be probated even if your loved has a will. Florida essentially has four types of probate. Which one applies to you depends upon the facts of your situation.

Formal Administration

A Formal Administration probate is typically required if the deceased has been dead less than 2 years OR the entire estate subject to administration in this state, less the value of property exempt from the claims of creditors, exceeds $75,000. A Formal Administration may be applicable to an Ancillary Administration.

Summary Administration

A Summary Administration probate is available if the deceased has been dead more than 2 years OR the entire estate subject to administration in this state, less the value of property exempt from the claims of creditors, does not exceed $75,000.​ A Summary Administration may be applicable to an Ancillary Administration. 

Ancillary Administration

An Ancillary Administration probate is required if a deceased lived in one state but owns property in Florida. An Ancillary Administration may proceed as a Formal Administration or a Summary Administration depending on the facts of each case.

Disposition without Administration

No formal probate proceedings are required if the deceased leaves only exempt personal property exempt from the claims of creditors, and nonexempt personal property the value of which does not exceed the sum of the amount of preferred funeral expenses and reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses of the last 60 days of the last illness.

How Long Will My Case Take?

Though Florida probate rules require a probate to be completed within one year, we can typically complete a formal administration within 6 to 9 months. This same timeframe applies to an Ancillary Administration.


There can be circumstances however, under which it may take longer than one year. In such cases, the time to complete it can be extended, but only by a court order signed by a judge.

As summary administration does not require all the formalities of formal administration, these cases can often be completed within 30 days. We have been able to complete summary cases in as little as 8 days.