In Florida, an estate’s assets fall into two different fundamental categories: probate and non-probate assets.
All assets owned by the decedent in the decedents’ name alone are subject to probate administration upon decedent’s death.
Other assets and property not titled exclusively in the deceased’s name or that include beneficiary designations are not subject to probate. Such non-probate assets include:
- Jointly Owned Assets: Real and personal property can be owned by spouses as tenants by the entirety or owned by two individuals jointly with rights of survivorship. Assets titled in such a way will pass directly to the survivors without going through probate.
- Beneficiary Accounts: Other types of assets have beneficiary designations which supercede wills and are likewise not subject to probate. Assets such as a life insurance policy, IRA, 401(k), employee benefit account, or a bank account with a payable-on-death provision will transfer automatically, outside probate, to the persons named as beneficiaries.
- Living Trust: If a living trust holds legal title to some of your property, then the assets held by the living trust also passes to the beneficiaries without probate. (The trust is a legal entity which survives you after your death.)