How to Transfer Real Property After Death in the State of Florida

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

How to Transfer Real Property After Death in the State of Florida

By Larissa Bodniowycz, J.D.

The passing of a loved one is difficult. In addition to working through the grief of your loss, you need to sort through and organize the affairs and belongings of the decedent. If you've been named the executor or administrator of your loved one's estate, you are in charge of managing this process.

Confused man reading paperwork while talking on the phone

If your loved one passed away owning land or a home, part of this process involves transferring the real property your loved one left behind to its new owner. The process for transferring the property depends on how the property was titled, whether your loved one died with a will, and who will be the new owner.

If you can competently transfer property on your own, you're not required to use an attorney. However, in most cases, it is advisable to hire a probate attorney to help you properly transfer the real estate your loved one left behind.

Determine What Property Needs to Be Transferred

Before you can transfer title, you need to determine what property was owned by the decedent. Make a list of the property and how it's titled. Your loved one may have left information about their property ownership in their files, in their will, in their safety deposit box, or in a letter to you or someone else. You can also search public records to avoid overlooking property you might not know about.

Once you know what real property your loved one left behind, determine to whom each piece of property should go based on your loved one's wishes and the law. Read the decedent's existing will and trust documents. These will usually state who gets each piece of property. Also, obtain a copy of the title for each piece of property. Some forms of title, such as joint tenancy with right of survivorship, indicate who the property should go to after death.

If there is no will, trust document, or other binding instruction regarding to whom the property should get transferred, Florida state laws have default rules. You must follow these laws.

Transfer Property Ownership

Once you determine who should get each piece of property, you need to transfer property title to the new owner. Whether you need to go through probate, a formal court process, to make the transfer, depends on how the property was titled.

For example, if the property was titled in the name of the decedent and another person as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, you can update the deed by bringing a copy of the death certificate and a few other forms to the clerk of the county where the property is located. In contrast, if property was titled in the decedent's name alone and left to someone else in the will, you will need to go through the probate process to change property title to the new owner. You can similarly avoid probate if the property is held in trust but you must follow the instructions in the trust regarding the transfer.

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.