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Impacts of Florida Probate on Real Estate

September 27, 2018

In the unfortunate event that someone close to you passes away, you could find yourself being the beneficiary of property from their estate. This property can be anything from a car or painting to a piece of real estate. In the event that you are inheriting real estate, you should be fully aware of your rights and how Florida probate will impact what you are allowed to do. If you currently own real estate, you may want to consider ways you can make the transfer of that asset simpler after your death.


What is Florida Probate?


Florida probate is a relatively broad term. It encompasses the whole court-supervised process for gathering the assets of a deceased individual, using these assets to pay off the deceased individual’s debts, and distributing assets to their designated beneficiaries.


Acquiring Clear Title


So, you inherited a piece of real estate and wish to sell the property. It will be necessary for the real property to go through the Florida probate process in order for you to be able to transfer what is defined as “marketable title” to your buyer. We certainly recommend that an owner in this position locates a real estate and/or legal professional that has experience in dealing with probate. You can wait until probate of the property is complete to contract to sell. Alternatively, with the help of an experienced agent or legal counsel, you can also enter into a contract to sell the property prior to probate. This is contingent on the completion of the needed probate process.  


A Lengthy Process


The duration of a probate process is largely unpredictable. Variables that affect the required timeframe include the value of the property, the attorney and realtor selected to handle the probate and sale, and whether or not there are challenges to your right to own the property. We have seen orders from the probate court approving the sale of property obtained in as little as thirty (30) days, while others have taken as much as a year.


Avoiding Probate


If you own real property and want to avoid the impact of the long and often expensive process of Florida probate, you may be able to with proper planning and execution. Here are three of many ways you might treat your asset and avoid probate:


  1.  If your property is held by a husband and wife together, Florida recognizes this ownership as a “tenancy by the entirety.” This means that when one spouse passes away, the surviving spouse will inherit the property immediately without probate. The surviving spouse becomes the sole owner and has the liberty to do as they please with it.


  1.  If the property is owned by two or more persons who are not married, and if the property is titled as a joint tenant with right of survivorship and not as tenants in common, the deceased owner’s interest will pass to the surviving owner(s) without probate. For example, if a father and son own a property together in this manner, and the father dies, the property immediately transfers to the son, so that he owns 100% without probate.


  1.   A third title-based strategy for avoiding probate is the use of a Lady Bird deed. In this case, the owner of the real estate can remain the primary owner of the property for life and before they die, they convey the remainder interest in the property to a specific individual or individuals. To illustrate, if a mother wanted her son to become the owner of her real estate while avoiding probate, she can convey the property via a Lady Bird deed, wherein she retains a life estate in the property and the son owns the entire interest in the property after her death.  


Rely on Hall & Runnels for Issues Concerning Real Estate Ownership in Florida

At Hall & Runnels, we take pride in going the extra mile for all those we serve, including those who depend on us for our legal expertise regarding real estate ownership in Florida. Contact us today to learn more.


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