Losing a loved one is a difficult experience and yet, in the midst of that challenge, many face legal and procedural issues related to the deceased person’s estate. One of the most challenging of these issues is navigating the probate process. Therefore, in order to make probate proceedings as smooth as possible and retain maximum assets to distribute to beneficiaries it is important to answer the question, “What assets are exempt from probate in Florida?”

What is Probate?

Before we identify assets that are exempt from probate in Florida, it is important to identify what probate is. When someone passes away, a court-supervised process begins to validate and authenticate the decedent’s will and then work with the deceased person’s personal representative to gather assets, pay creditors, and distribute the remaining estate to the beneficiaries. Thankfully, for the purposes of our discussion today, there are certain assets exempt from this probate process, which protects them for the beneficiaries.

What Assets May Be Exempt From Probate in Florida?

Florida’s probate process, which is outlined in the “Florida Probate Code”, has some protections in place for the decedent’s family. These protections are specifically in place for a surviving spouse and any children and are known as “exempt property” and “family allowance.” The overarching goal of these protections is to provide assets to beneficiaries immediately for their relief and support instead of needing to wait for the creditor claims period to pass before they can access them.

    • Exempt Property: This property cannot be transferred to creditors and can be given to the beneficiaries much more quickly than that which is subject to the probate process. This type of property includes household furniture and appliances in the decedent’s home up to $20,000 in value as well as two personal motor vehicles. Additional financial exemptions may include any Section 529 tuition monies as well as death benefits for teachers and school administrators.
    • Family Allowance: This money comes out of the estate upon time of death for the purpose of supporting the survivor’s needs during the administrative process.

Additional Options for Exempting Assets from Probate in Florida

In addition to the more typical exemptions listed above, Florida also has some legal tools in place that can help you form a strategy to protect other assets from probate. This more thorough estate planning may include retirement accounts, property that is in a trust, and bank accounts or real property under joint ownership. Florida also includes provisions for “payable-on-death-accounts,” where the decedent named a recipient to receive the funds upon the account holder’s death.

Our Experienced Probate Attorneys Can Help

While losing a loved one can be difficult, the additional legal and procedural challenges around the loss can be eased if you are familiar with and have planned for a smooth and optimized probate process. In order to best protect your assets for your beneficiaries, contact one of our knowledgeable probate attorneys to discuss your specific, valuable, and important situation today.