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Some valuable items that do not go through estate administration

It may surprise some readers, but under Florida law, not every important piece of property goes through probate. Some things that you think of as part of your estate plan are not subject to probate, which may affect how you and your attorney craft your plan and adjust it as time goes on.

A “probate asset” is something that goes through estate administration. Things are not probate assets are not subject to probate. The Florida Bar Association provides some examples of what goes through probate, and what does not:

  • A bank account or investment account that is solely in the name of the decedent is a probate asset. But an account payable or transferrable upon death to another party, or one held jointly with rights of survivorship with another, is not a probate asset.
  • A life insurance policy, annuity contract or individual retirement account that is payable to a specific beneficiary is not a probate asset.
  • Real estate is a probate asset if it is solely in the decedent’s name, or in the name of the decedent and another person as tenants in common, and is not a homestead property. Property owned by a married couple as tenants by the entirety is not a probate asset when one spouse dies. Instead, it goes to the surviving spouse.

Figuring out what needs to be included in a will, and what should not be included, can be complicated for people with little experience with Florida’s probate law. An experienced attorney can be a big help in avoiding mistakes.

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