Florida Probate Code — secrets & essentials for family members, beneficiaries and even trustees
Billions and billions of dollars flow through and around Florida probates. Many times the Florida resident uses a last will to leave inheritances. Sometimes, the will pours over into a revocable trust. Which is now irrevocable. To understand your rights, you need to understand the Florida Probate Code. Whether you are a trustee or a beneficiary who got cut out. Think of the probate code as two big volumes of laws. One tells you who inherits if there is no will. The other tells you all about probating a Florida will. For an easy-2-understand, Plain-English look at the Florida Probate Code, read below. For a free VIDEO library of insightful, free Florida Estate and Trust Topics, click HERE.
The Florida Probate Code is made up of statutes. Florida laws. They are different than the Florida Probate Rules. And the rules of civil procedure. The probate code has a lot of definitions. It also tells you about starting a probate. Starting the administration process. Why is that important? Because that’s what the law says. When we die, there are all these special rules for dealing with the dead person’s money. And her creditors. And expenses of administration. Beneficiaries get paid last. When there is not enough money to give out, the probate code has laws for that, too. There are many, many rules for gifts or inheritances. Like, what if a piece of land is left to you in the will. But the land was sold 5 years ago. That’s ademption. Or, what if you are left $1,000,000. But you died and don’t inherit. Maybe your kids inherit, but not your spouse. Want to know why? That’s what the Florida legislature says ! But the probate code does not talk a lot about suing an executor for breach of fiduciary duty. Or for surcharge. You really should look to caselaw for a more thorough analysis or understanding of those concepts. The basic introduction to probating property and estates can be found in The Florida Probate Code. There is a lot to learn about an executor’s duties and powers. That’s a great place to start.
Are there any secrets or shortcuts in the Florida Probate Code? Maybe not to an experienced probate litigator. But, yes, for the general public. For example, Florida calls an “executor” a “personal representative.” And Chapter 732 is super important. Remember, you can have a probate if there is a will or there is no will. If a Florida resident dies without a will, that probate is called “intestacy”. Intestacy is when one dies without a will. In that case, the “heirs” inherit. Determining who is an heir is important. Also, determining beneficiaries if the will is not clear. Same is true for a will that is presented for probate but later found to be void. If there is no valid will, then the heirs inherit under the Florida Intestacy Laws. If you want to read about the most common probate mistakes, consider this book available on Amazon. Click HERE to read about will contests or will challenges. That link also has the most important statutes in the code for will contests.