The State of Florida Statute of Limitations on Inheritance

By Wayne Thomas

Florida law encourages the timely settling of estates after death. Although the probate process may be started at any time, once a person has been appointed to administer the estate, various steps must be completed efficiently and in accordance with a strict set of statutes. These time limitations apply to notifying beneficiaries and creditors and specify how long you have to collect from the estate before assets will be considered unclaimed and become the property of the state.

Florida law encourages the timely settling of estates after death. Although the probate process may be started at any time, once a person has been appointed to administer the estate, various steps must be completed efficiently and in accordance with a strict set of statutes. These time limitations apply to notifying beneficiaries and creditors and specify how long you have to collect from the estate before assets will be considered unclaimed and become the property of the state.

Overview of Probate

Probate is the process by which a deceased person's assets are distributed to named beneficiaries if there is a will, or according to Florida law if there is no will. There is no specific time limit for opening probate in Florida, provided all property taxes are kept current. However, practical concerns may make it difficult to administer a very old estate. For example, if a will is probated decades after a person dies, it may be impossible to locate the beneficiaries.

Protect your loved ones by a legally binding will. Make a Will Online Now

Duties of the Personal Representative

An important part of the probate process in Florida is the appointment of a personal representative. State law requires that this individual be over 18, mentally competent and not a convicted felon. If a representative is not named in the will or does not qualify, the court will appoint someone. After appointment, the representative must send a copy of the notice of administration to all known beneficiaries. The beneficiaries then have three months to object to the appointment, challenge the validity of the will or dispute the authority of a particular court to hear the case.

Notice to Creditors

As part of administering the estate, the personal representative must notify all of the deceased person's known creditors in writing, as well as publish notice in a newspaper for two weeks. The creditors then have 90 days to present their claims, after which the remaining assets will be distributed to the beneficiaries. If property is held in a trust, it can pass without probate. However, if probate is avoided, Florida law gives creditors two years after the person's death to make claims against the estate.

Elective Share

Spouses in Florida are entitled to 30 percent of their deceased spouse's probate estate. This is known as the "elective share" and requires the spouse to make the request to the court in a timely fashion. In Florida, the election must be made within six months of receiving a notice of administration, or within two years of death if no notice is provided.

Unclaimed Property

In cases where a beneficiary cannot be found or refuses to accept an inheritance after being notified, the property is deemed unclaimed. Unclaimed property is to be sold and the cash delivered to the court. If the total value is less than $500, the court will post notice at the courthouse for 30 days. If more than $500, notice will be published in a newspaper for two months. If the property remains unclaimed for an additional six months, it is transferred to the state for deposit in a school fund. Any interest accrued will be used to support Florida schools, but the beneficiary has 10 years to claim the principal. After that, the funds become state property and may not be claimed.

Protect your loved ones by a legally binding will. Make a Will Online Now
Probating a Small Estate in Hawaii

References

Related articles

What Is the Time Frame in the State of Florida for the Executor to Disperse the Estate?

The length of time required for a Florida executor to pay the beneficiaries of an estate and close the probate process varies considerably. The process can be concluded within weeks for a simple estate eligible for an informal probate. It could take several months, however, for a simple estate to go through the formal probate process. The estate's executor, or personal representative, likely will need one year or more to complete the probate process for a complex estate.

What is the New Jersey Statute of Limitations for Claims Against a Decedent's Estate?

Under New Jersey law, creditors have only a limited number of months to make a claim against an estate. If a claim is made past the deadline, the estate is not responsible to pay the debt. For debtors who die without a will, the laws of intestacy impose a similar time limit for creditors to make a claim. Certain estate planning tools may be useful to avoid creditor claims and executors may negotiate or contest claims against the estate.

Does an Administrator of an Estate Have to Publish It in the Paper?

Probate laws require certain facts be made public through publication. States vary as to what must be made public, where to publish and for how long, but every state has some type of publication requirements. Once made aware of probate through publication, beneficiaries and creditors have the opportunity to contest decisions of the personal representative or file claims against the estate.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

What Is a Notice of Probate?

Probate is a court-supervised process for determining and gathering the assets of a deceased person, known as the ...

What to Expect in Tennessee Probate Court

When someone passes away owning property in Tennessee, the probate court is charged with supervising administration of ...

Steps in Closing an Estate of a Decendent With Beneficiaries

Acting as the executor -- known as a personal representative in some states -- of an estate can involve a lot of work, ...

What Are the Protocols of Executor of a Will in the State of Florida?

Probate is the process of winding up a deceased's financial responsibilities and transferring legal ownership of her ...

Browse by category