Florida Probate Court Laws of the Deceased

By Heather Frances J.D.

Generally, probate is the process of gathering a deceased person’s estate, paying his final debts and distributing the remaining assets to beneficiaries. Florida’s circuit courts oversee probate cases in accordance with Florida’s probate laws, found in Chapters 731 through 735 of the Florida statutes. These laws address who can inherit from a decedent, as well as how the inheritances are distributed.


When a decedent has a will, it may be admitted to a Florida probate court to start the process of estate administration, unless the estate is so small that it does not require administration. Once the court determines the will is valid, it will likely appoint the executor – or personal representative – named in the will as the administrator of the decedent’s estate. The executor must follow Florida’s probate rules, including the requirements to file certain documents with the court.

Intestate Succession

If a decedent didn’t have a will, he is said to have died “intestate,” and probate procedures still apply to his estate. In such cases, courts oversee the distribution of the estate, as prescribed in Florida’s laws of intestate succession. These laws allow the decedent’s close family members to inherit his estate, starting with his spouse and children. For example, if the decedent had no children or had children only with his surviving spouse, his surviving spouse inherits his entire estate. If he had children from a prior relationship, his surviving spouse inherits half of his estate and the children inherit the other half.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Valuing Assets

Many decedents have debts when they die, and creditors are entitled to payment from the decedent’s estate. Probate cases include a three-month waiting period during which creditors must file their claims against the estate, or the claim is forfeited. Typically, the executor pays the creditors’ claims out of the assets in the estate, and sometimes the executor must appraise and sell some assets. Appraisals may also be necessary if the estate’s value is to be split between beneficiaries.

Family Allowance

Probate can take several months or more to complete, and the decedent’s spouse and children may need money to live on in the meantime, so Florida law provides a family allowance that is available if the decedent lived in Florida when he died. The family allowance provides money to the surviving spouse or children to pay their expenses until the probate case is complete and assets are distributed. The family allowance cannot exceed $18,000, which is payable in a lump sum or in installments.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
What Is the Longest You Can Take to Settle an Estate in Virginia?


Related articles

Probate Laws for Dying Without a Will in Minnesota

Even when people don’t write a will that dictates how they want their assets distributed when they die, most do leave some property that requires legal transfer to their heirs. Probate is necessary to effect the transfers. This is easiest when there is a will, but the process is similar in Minnesota when a decedent dies intestate, or without a will. The major difference is that without a will, the state distributes the decedent's property according to law and under the terms of its Uniform Probate Code.

What Happens When Someone Dies Without a Will in Nebraska?

If someone dies with a valid will, the will leaves instructions about who should manage his estate and who should inherit his property. But, when a person dies without a will, he is said to have died “intestate” and Nebraska’s laws of intestate succession govern the way his estate is managed and distributed.

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.

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

Related articles

The Inheritance Statute in Washington, DC

Washington, D.C. has enacted the Uniform Probate Code, a law drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on ...

Who Enforces the Execution of a Will?

In drafting your will, you may appoint a person to serve as your executor, also known as a personal representative. ...

Probate Laws on the Next of Kin

When someone dies without a will, state laws -- the so-called "laws of intestate succession" -- determine who inherits ...

Timeframe for Probating a Will

Probate exists not only to simplify the process of distributing the assets of a deceased person, known as the decedent, ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED