D. "Rep" DeLoach III, Estate Planning and Board Certified Elder Law Attorney
Rep: Probate is the court process where a decedent's assets are settled properly before assets are distributed according to the heirs. When someone dies in the state of Florida and they have assets that are in their own individual name, those assets are distributed as part of the probate process. The probate process means that when you have the court involved and the court involve, make sure the bills are paid, the assets get paid, and the assets are strewed to the correct heirs.
Now when you die and have assets that are in your own individual name, those are the only things that are subject to the court process and to the probate process. And that means if mom or dad passes away and they have assets that are in their own individual names such as a bank account, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, their home, all those assets are distributed through the probate process in order to get to the heirs.
Now the will only directs where the assets go as part of the probate process. So if you don't have a will, the assets go through probate, but if you do have a will, the assets could have probate as well, and the probate process really is making sure that you find a good attorney and with a good attorney, the attorney will walk you through the process in order to make sure everything is finalized. Everything is wrapped up as well as it can be.
Again, how do you know when assets are going to be probated? When mom or dad passes away and they have assets that are in their own individual name, and then when that happens and the family doesn't have the ability to get ahold of their assets or the bank won't let them get ahold of the assets or the insurance company won't let them get ahold of the assets or the property can't be sold, then when that happens, then the family needs to find a good probate attorney, and a good probate attorney will make sure the proper court procedure is followed and assets are distributed to the right place, but only after the bills and taxes are paid.