If you are a Florida resident or, even if you are not a Florida resident, if you own property in Florida that is not held in a trust, your estate may be subject to probate in Florida. Here are some important questions that determine issues relating to administration in Florida:
- Was the decedent a resident of Florida or another state? If the decedent was a resident of Michigan, then the probate in Michigan would be considered the domiciliary estate. If the decedent owned real estate in Florida that is part of the estate, an ancillary estate would be opened in Florida. In order to open an ancillary estate in Florida, authenticated copies of certain court documents and the Will must be provided in the Florida probate administration.
- Is the nominated personal representative a Florida resident? If not, the nominee must be one of the following in order to qualify to serve as personal representative: (1) A legally adopted child or adoptive parent of the decedent; (2) related by lineal consanguinity to the decedent; (3) a spouse or a brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, or niece of the decedent, or someone related by lineal consanguinity to any such person; or (4) the spouse of a person otherwise qualified. This is something to consider if you are Florida resident or you own Florida real estate that will transfer via your Will and you are not naming a family member to serve as personal representative.
- The publication of notice to creditors is a 3 month claims period (compared to Michigan, which is 4 months). If the decedent was 55 years old or older, the notice to creditors and a death certificate must be provided to the Agency f or Health Care Administration.
- What if the value of the estate assets does not exceed $75,000? You may file a summary administration which is a faster process because a personal representative is not appointed. Instead, a petition is filed along with a proposed order to distribute the estate assets to the beneficiaries. This is not a good option f or estates with creditors.
- Is the decedent’s Will a pour-over Will to the Decedent’s Trust? If yes, and the Personal Representative and Trustee are the same people, the Personal Representative is required to give notice of the petition f or probate to the Trust beneficiaries.
- Was the decedent a Michigan resident when she signed her Will and then moved to Florida and later died a Florida resident without updating her Will? If yes, when the Will is filed with the probate court to open the estate in Florida, be prepared to explain to the register how the decedent’s Will complied with Michigan law, her residency state when she signed her Will. Keep in mind, even if the Will is a holographic will and was properly signed in conformance with Michigan law when the decedent was a resident, Florida will not accept it because Florida does not accept holographic wills.
- The filing fee to open an estate in Florida can be as high as $400, however, Florida does not collect an inventory fee based on the value of the estate assets as Michigan does in its estate administration.