STEP 1: DETERMINE IF YOU NEED TO FILE A PROBATE
Section 735.301 of the Florida Statutes provides that in very limited circumstances, no probate administration shall be required in regard to the estate of a deceased person. If these circumstances apply then the court will permit a Disposition without Administration. The purpose of a Disposition without Administration is to reimburse a person for the out of pocket expenses that person paid for preferred funeral or medical care expenses.
To determine if you can file for a Disposition without Administration, ask the following questions:
FIRST QUESTION – DID THE DECEASED LEAVE ANY PROPERTY OTHER THAN THE PROPERTY DESCRIBED IN THE 3 CATEGORIES BELOW? If so, you cannot use the Disposition without Administration process. You will need to file some type of probate case. Go to STEP 2 to help figure out which type of probate you may need to file.
(1) The following Personal Property which is exempt from the claims of creditors under F.S. 732.402:
(a) household furniture, furnishings, and appliances in the decedent’s usual place of abode up to a net value of $20,000.00 as of the date of death; and
(b) two motor vehicles as defined in F.S. (316.003), which do not, individually as to either such motor vehicle, have a gross vehicle weight in excess of 15,000 pounds, held in the decedent’s name and regularly used by the decedent or members of the decedent’s immediate family as their personal motor vehicles; and
(c) All qualified tuition programs authorized by s. 529 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, including, but not limited to, the Florida Prepaid College Trust Fund advance payment contracts under s. 1009.98 and the Florida Prepaid College Trust Fund participation agreements under s. 1009.981; and
(d) All benefits paid pursuant to s. 112.1915. (These are very specific death benefits related to teachers and school administrators.)
*NOTE: The above exemptions only apply to the surviving spouse, or, if there is no surviving spouse, to the children of the decedent.
(2) Personal Property exempt from the claims of creditors under the Constitution of Florida (to surviving spouse or heirs):
Personal property up to the value of $1,000
Homestead of the deceased
(3) Nonexempt personal property, the value of which does not exceed the total of:
(a) Reasonable funeral, interment, and grave-marker expenses not to exceed the total amount of $6,000.00; plus
(b) Reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses of the last 60 days of the last illness of the decedent including compensation of persons attending to him/her.
SECOND QUESTION – DO ANY OF THE FOLLOWING APPLY TO YOUR SITUATION? If you answer “YES” to any of these questions then you probably cannot use the Disposition without Administration process. You will need to file some type of probate case. Go to STEP 2 to help figure out which type of probate you may need to file.
Did the deceased leave any real property?
Does the value of the funds to be distributed exceed preferred funeral expenses up to $6,000 plus medical and hospital expenses paid by the petitioner during the last 60 days of the last illness?
Did the deceased leave property that is titled in a business name?
Is there a Wrongful Death case pending or going to be filed in regard to the death of the deceased?
Is there a reason that you need to appoint a personal representative to obtain information? For example, do you think there are bank or similar accounts that contain funds but the bank won’t give you any information? If so, a probate case will likely have to be filed to appoint a personal representative to find out the details about the account.
Is there an income tax refund due to the deceased in excess of $2,500?
Is there an income tax refund due to the deceased but the deceased died with no surviving spouse or children?
Is the State of Florida holding any assets that belong to the deceased? Check this link to find out: https://www.fltreasurehunt.gov/
WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP?
If you have determined that you will be able to use the Disposition without Administration process, go to our court clerk page to find the link to the clerk’s office in the county where the deceased died. Many times the clerk will provide instructions and the forms you need to fill out to complete the process.
If you have determined that you do not qualify for the Disposition without Administration process, CALL 239-997-0078 or EMAIL now to schedule a free 30 minute telephone or in-person consultation to discuss what to do next. If you want to learn more about which type of probate process you may need, GO TO STEP 2.