Where does one's property go when one dies? This is a question asked by individuals in the estate planning process. The answer depends upon whether the individual died testate or intestate, and whether a representative was specified for probate administration. For many individuals in Florida, these terms could potentially be confusing, but the answer lies in whether one has prepared in advance.
Testate indicates that the individual died leaving a legally recognized will. The will typically names a person to serve as as a representative, called the executor. This person is responsible for carrying out the terms of the will and guiding the estate through required the required legal process of submitting the will to court, called probate.
To have died intestate means that the person did not have a will in place at the time of death. The estate probate process is then turned over to the courts, where the judge will appoint an administrator and decide how the estate will be distributed, using state laws. Probate is a public matter, and can be challenged, sometimes requiring litigation. The process can become time-consuming if issues are unclear or formal challenges arise.
One protection against probate problems is to create a legally valid will that adheres to relevant state laws and names a responsible party for the task of floridaelderlaw.net/Probate-Estate-Ancillary-Administrations/">probate administration. This can help to ensure that the decedent's final wishes are honored after the time of death, and that important assets are distributed according to one's wishes. In Florida, an experienced estate planning attorney can offer guidance for the individual looking to finalize an estate plan.
Source: tulsaworld.com, "Legal Perspective: Where will your things go when you die?", Brandy Robles Winters, Dec. 12, 2017