Generally speaking, probate is a legal process where a decedent's will is administered under the court's supervision. After the probate court has determined the deceased's will is valid, all of the assets in the deceased's estate are distributed by the executor to the named beneficiaries as directed by the will. If a person dies intestate -- that is, without a valid will -- the deceased's assets will pass to his heirs in accordance with state probate laws for inheritance and intestate succession.
Named Assets in the Will
All assets named specifically in the will are subject to probate in Florida. For example, if the deceased specifically identifies an asset, it is subject to probate. For example, with the phrase "I leave my house to my children," the deceased's house, which is specifically identified in the will, will be subject to probate in Florida.
If an asset is not specifically named but is implied through the language in the will, it is also subject to probate in Florida. For example, if the deceased's will reads "I leave 50 percent of my assets to my church and the rest to my grandchildren," all assets owned by the deceased then pass through probate, although no one asset was specifically named.
Other Considerations for Assets
Any assets owned by the deceased and the deceased alone -- that is, any property that is not jointly owned with someone else or property where a third party has an interest -- is also subject to probate in Florida, even if the asset is not specifically named or implied in the will.
Real property, money held in bank accounts, personal items stored in a safety deposit box, stock, automobiles, boats, household furnishings and personal property are probate assets, divisible at death unless they are transferred into a trust.
Retirement plans, pensions, 401(k)s, IRAs and life insurance polices are non-probate assets under most state laws.