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Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group
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What Happens When A Loved One Dies Without A Will In Florida?


While most of us know that it is important to draft and update a will, we do not always get around to doing what is best for us. It seems like one more chore on the to do list that we continue to put off, until it is too late. In some cases a loved one might die leaving very little to be passed on or distributed, but without a will to indicate what their wishes were. What happens in Florida when the deceased left no will but their total assets do not exceed $10,000? 

New Update to Probate Administration of Small Estates 

Last year the Florida Legislature passed several bills related to probate and estate administration. One new law that will have an effect on many families is Florida Statute §

735.504 (2020). The new statute allows the personal representative or executor of the decedent’s estate to circumvent the probate process if the decedent died intestate (left no will). However, the exception only applies if the decedent passed with personal property totaling less than $10,000. Any personal property they decedent did own must be exempt from creditors, and the decedent must have been deceased for 1 year prior to the executor seeking to close the estate. The $10,000 hard limit includes funeral expenses and medical expenses. If the deceased owed debt to creditors or was leasing property, their estate would not qualify. Similarly if a creditor filed a notice of claim against the estate, it could not be closed without the normal process of filing to open an estate in probate.

What is Summary Administration? 

In Florida, an estate can be closed without direct administration through probate if the total contents and value of the estate is less than $75,000, or if the decedent passed away at least two years ago. To proceed with summary administration, the decedent’s beneficiary or personal representative must file a petition with the court of jurisdiction. The petition must be signed by the decedent’s surviving spouse, if applicable along with any other beneficiaries to the estate. After two years have passed, creditors can no longer attach to a decedent’ estate, even if the estate was just opened and a petition for summary administration has been filed. The personal representative of the estate must also file a notice to creditors listing all requirements necessary. Fla. Stat.  §735. 2063 (2019). This is separate from small estate requirements where the contents of the estate do not exceed $10,000.

 Contact the Attorneys at Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group 

If you need assistance drafting your own planning documents, or help with the probate administration of a loved one’s estate, our estate planning attorneys at Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group are standing by to help. We are dedicated to helping clients through difficult times in their lives and helping to make sense of estate planning and administration. With an office location conveniently in the Villages, we are standing by to help you. Call today to schedule a consultation.



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