Probate is a complex and extensive process that can cost a deceased’s surviving heirs time, money and energy. Fortunately, there are ways to speed up an estate distribution, one of which is to identify which assets must go through probate and which are exempt. How will this accelerate the probate process? Administrators can distribute assets more quickly if the estate involves fewer assets. If there are exempt properties, the administrator will have fewer assets to go through and distribute, which can expedite the probate process.
A closer look at the exemptions
Florida laws entitle a deceased individual’s surviving spouse and children to a share of the decedent’s estate, which will not form part of probate upon the owner’s death. This includes the following assets:
- Household furniture, furnishing and appliances: Home furnishings of up to $20,000 found in the deceased owner’s primary residence are exempt from probate.
- Motor vehicles: Two motor vehicles, each weighing 15,000 pounds or less, which the decedent or their immediate family regularly use, will not go through probate.
- Tuition programs: IRC-Authorized tuition programs and educator benefits are exempt from probate.
Other nonprobate assets
Here are other usual assets that can avoid the probate process in Florida:
- Revocable trusts: Once the settlor creates a trust, the properties in it no longer belong to them but to the trust. The trustee will manage the trust assets and distribute them to the beneficiaries.
- Transfer-on-death accounts: Named beneficiaries will directly receive proceeds from certain assets such as bank accounts, life insurance policies and retirement funds upon the asset owner’s death.
- Joint accounts: With joint-held accounts, the surviving owner will automatically take full ownership of the account.
It is good to note that these exemptions are not absolute. If the beneficiary of an asset is the estate or the named heir would not ordinarily be exempt, then the property would still have to go through probate.
It is common to get lost in the probate process, especially if it involves multiple properties. If you are unsure if your deceased loved one’s assets fall under the exemptions, consulting with a probate professional might be a good option to ensure you are on the right track.