Probate Of Estates

Probate is a legal process through which the assets of a deceased person are properly distributed to the heirs or beneficiaries under a will, or if there is no will, according to Florida law. The Court oversees the estate to make sure debts are paid and proper distribution is made.
  • Information on viewing Wills and other probate documents online.
  • Estate Bond Schedule
  • Probate forms
  • Probate Recordable Instruments List

    Last Will and Testament:
    A will is a document executed by a person which disposes of his/her property after his/her death. It generally names a personal representative to administer the estate.

    When to file a Will:
    The custodian of the original Last Will and Testament of a deceased person must deposit the will with the Clerk of the Circuit Court in the county where the decedent resided, within ten (10) days after receiving information that the person is deceased.

    The custodian must supply the person's date of death or the last four digits of the personís social security number to the Clerk upon deposit of the will.

    You do not need an attorney to file the will with the Clerk of the Circuit Court. However, you may want to consult with an attorney before filing the will, so that he or she may determine whether Probate proceedings will be necessary.

    If the deceased person left no Will:
    If there is no will, and there are assets to be probated, the estate of the deceased person must be distributed in accordance with Florida Probate law.

    If there is a will filed but no personal representative has been named:
    It may be necessary for an attorney to petition the Court on behalf of heirs or beneficiaries, or other interested parties, to appoint a personal representative to administer the estate.

    Types of Probate Proceedings:

    There are 3 types of estate proceedings. You may wish to seek legal advice before deciding which type of proceeding is appropriate.

    1. Formal Administration:

    May be filed when there are assets exceeding $75,000, and/or when it is necessary to appoint a representative to act on behalf of the estate. At the time of appointment, Letters of Administration are issued to the personal representative by the Court giving him or her the authority to complete the administration of the estate. The Court oversees the administration of the estate to ensure the decedentís debts are paid and that correct distribution to the heirs and/or beneficiaries.

    Formal administration proceedings are initiated by filing a petition requesting the appointment of a personal representative. The attorney for the personal representative prepares and files the petition and other required documents. The appointed personal representative is then responsible for the estate, paying all debts of the decedent and distributing the balance of the estate to the rightful beneficiaries.

    The appointed personal representative may be required to file a bond. Please refer to the Estate Bond Schedule.

    2. Summary Administration:

    May be filed when the value of the entire estate subject to administration does not exceed $75,000.
    (Summary Administration does not require the appointment of a personal representative).

    A Petition for Summary Administration can be filed by any beneficiary or nominated personal representative in the decedentís will, or by an attorney representing that petitioner(s). If the petitioner chooses to proceed without an attorney, he may research the requirements and find necessary forms for filing a Summary Administration at the Law Library

    3. Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration:

    Florida Statute 735.301 allows for an informal application to the court for transfer of assets when the decedent has only left personal property (no real estate can be transferred through this process). If you are a surviving spouse, or if no spouse, the surviving child of the decedent; or you paid the funeral expenses for the decedent, you may be eligible for this process. This procedure may be accomplished with the filing of an informal petition. Disposition Packets (which include a checklist, instructions and forms) are available from the Clerk of the Circuit Court in Probate Court Records and here. The Disposition Packet will help you determine if you are eligible for such a process Ė which is based on the nature of the assets and your relationship to the decedent-- and if so, provide the forms needed and detail other documents you may need to submit to the court.

    After all the required documents have been filed, the court will review what you have provided and generate an order. If everything meets the statutory guidelines, the order will state that the asset(s) now belong to you. The prepaid certified copy of the original order will be mailed to you for submission to the asset holder. Agencies, such as the Dept. of Motor Vehicles and banks, require a certified copy of this order to release assets.

    There is a fee for this process. Before you begin, you may want to inquire with the holder of the asset (for example, if the asset is a bank account, contact the bank) to see what may be required for transfer. Depending on the asset and your relationship to the decedent, you may only need a death certificate and certified copy of the will.

    Refer to the current Schedule of Service Charges, available in any Clerk's office or online, for the current filing fee.

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    Information is available about the following areas of the Probate Division:

    Viewing Wills or other Probate documents on the internet.

    At this time, there is no internet access available to the public for viewing imaged documents, unless you are a registered user. To become a registered user, click here.

    Images of probate court documents are also available for viewing at any of the Clerkís locations on the public view terminals. Our staff will be happy to demonstrate if you should need assistance.

    You may also order, online or by mail, copies of any document not sealed by Florida Statute, Probate Rule, Administrative Order or Court Order. The copies will be mailed to you upon receipt of the service fee of $1.00 per page. Please include a self-addressed, postage paid envelope with your payment, or to pay by credit card, use our online copy request service.

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    PROBATE COURT: Estate Bond Schedule

    Florida law gives the Court full latitude and discretion to set the estate bonds and delineates in Section 733.403(1) many factors that must be considered when setting these bonds. The following chart is prepared as an aid for the Court in setting bonds based upon an estate's gross value and other factors of that statute.

    Estate Gross Value:  Bond:
    $          0 -   75,000* $ 18,000
    $  75,001 -   100,000 $ 25,000
    $  100,001 -   175,000 $ 35,000
    $  175,001 - 250,000 $ 50,000
    $250,001 - 500,000 $ 75,000
    $500,001 - unlimited $ 100,000 minimum**

    *Every wrongful death estate will have a minimum bond of $18,000.
    **Do multipliers of $100,000 for each $500,000 of estate (i.e. $1,100,000 estate calls for bond of $225,000).

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