What is a probate? In the simplest possible terms a probate is the process of reviewing the last will and testament and distributing the deceased’s property after they have passed. However, there is more that goes into a probate.
When looking further into the probate process, a probate can mean many different things when it comes to the last will and testament of the deceased. Not only does probate mean court-supervised review of the last will and testament but it also has to do with the deceased’s assets, remaining bills such as utilities and taxes, as well as the distribution of the deceased’s belongings.
Probate also is used to distribute the estate of a deceased person who does not have a will. There is so much that goes into the probate process.
Is Probate Necessary?
There are several instances in which probate is necessary in Florida. The first instance of this is if you are the sole owner of your property and you haven’t stated a beneficiary or co-owners of your property when you pass. In a case like this, the courts would have no other choice but to initiate probate to determine who should receive your belongings.
However, there is one exception to this rule. If your estate value is less than $75,000 than instead of a probate you can go through the much faster process of a summary administration. A summary administration can be really helpful. You will need to have an appraisal done on the property to determine the value of your estate.
Another instance is if the beneficiaries that are named in your last will and testament have passed away before you or if you have not named any beneficiaries then the estate will have to go through probate.
Tenant-in-common is another instance of necessary probate. A tenant-in-common would be if you lived with another person who was not a co-owner to your property. For example 2 people live together and we’ll call them person 1 and person 2.
When person 1 passes away his share of the property as well as his belongings do not automatically pass to person 2. Instead everything that person 1 held ownership of will pass to the beneficiaries in the person 1’s living trust (so long that person 1 had a trust). If there was no trust then a probate will be required so that person 1’s belongings pass on to the new rightful owners.
Probate can be a very long and daunting process and is particularly difficult given the circumstances of losing a loved one. If you have not set up a last will and testament yet it is important that you do. If you don’t and you pass with no stated beneficiaries most of what you own will not end up in the hands of the people you love. It’s not easy making up your will, but it is important to do so for the ones you love.
Why Is an Appraisal Necessary for Probate?
If you can not avoid probate, then an appraisal will be necessary. The reason why an appraisal is so important in the case of probate is because the cash value of the property must be determined. The probate court will be unable to distribute any property or assets belonging to the deceased’s estate until an appraisal has been completed.
The reason for the appraisal process like stated before, is to determine the cash value of all the deceased’s assets. The cash value must be determined so that the assets can be distributed evenly. According to probate law, equal distribution of any assets within the estate is required. Then the estate will be distributed to any beneficiaries, living heirs and so forth.
Another important reason why appraisals are necessary is to determine estate taxes. Any property, according to federal and state laws, must be appraised and taxed. This step is required with or without probate. Even if you do not require a probate for the distribution of your will, you will in fact require an appraisal at the very least for tax purposes.
If you want to learn more information about estate appraisals or set up an appointment call RE Appraisal Associates of SWFL at 941-743-3700.