Probate, a court-supervised process for identifying and gathering the assets of a deceased person (the decedent), also involves paying the decedent’s debts, and distributing the decedent’s assets to the beneficiaries. The decedent’s assets are typically first used to pay the cost of the probate proceeding, then to pay the decedent’s outstanding debts, and the remainder is distributed to the decedent’s beneficiaries.
Probate is necessary to pass ownership of the decedent’s probate assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries. A valid will is useless unless it is admitted to probate in the court. Only then can a will be effective to pass ownership of probate assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries. If the decedent had no will, probate is necessary to pass ownership of the decedent’s probate assets to those persons who are to receive them under Florida law.
Probate is also necessary to wind up the decedent’s financial affairs after his or her death. Administration of the decedent’s estate ensures that the decedent’s creditors are paid if certain procedures are correctly followed.
There are two types of probate administration under Florida law: formal administration and summary administration.
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