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Florida Probate Basics - What Assets Go Through Probate

The assets we own usually fall into one of three categories. These categories are 1) assets you own that have a beneficiary designation, 2) assets that you own jointly with a right of survivorship with someone else and 3) assets that you own solely in your own name.

If assets have a beneficiary designation, then they are distributed to the named beneficiary at your death. It doesn’t matter what your will may say about who gets that asset because the beneficiary designation means that asset never makes it to your will. So, these assets do not become part of the probate estate.

The assets that you own jointly with a right of survivorship with someone else also are not affected by the instructions in your will. That is because by operation of law, the surviving joint owner becomes the owner upon your death. So, these assets also do not become part of the probate estate.

Therefore, usually only the assets that you own solely in your own name become part of the probate estate.

It is very important to get a complete list of all the assets that were owned by the person who died and then verify one by one which category they fall into. This is because if an asset gets missed in the initial probate process, the probate process may have to be reopened again down the road to deal with that missed asset.

For example, let’s say the person who died owned a life insurance policy and that life insurance policy named his wife as the beneficiary and did not name any contingent or back-up beneficiaries. His wife died several years before he did, but he never changed the beneficiary designation. In most cases, if the named beneficiary is not alive, the estate becomes the default beneficiary and then the life insurance proceeds become part of the probate proceedings.

It would be easy to initially think that the life insurance policy, as an asset with a beneficiary, would not be part of the probate proceedings. That is why it is important to thoroughly review all the assets one by one at the beginning of the probate process to verify which assets should and should not be included in the probate estate.

  • Why Choose
    Our Firm?

    We limit the number of clients that we have at one time, allowing us to focus on your case.

    Personalized Representation
  • Know the
    Benefits

    Find out if you and your family can benefit from our elder law planning services!

    More Information
  • Dedicated & Experienced

    Our firm exclusively handles elder law concerns so your family can obtain peace of mind.

    Meet Your Attorney
  • Complimentary Consultation

    Let us help. Request your consultation today and we will be in touch.

    Contact Us Now

Contact Us

Edwards Elder Law, P.A.
St. Petersburg Elder Law Attorney
Located at: 2510 1st Ave. N.,
St. Petersburg, FL 33713
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Phone: (727) 755-5808
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The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.