What Happens When a Beneficiary Dies During Probate in Florida?
By: Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
May 5th, 2022
Probate administration is a common process for many estates in Florida. But what happens when a named beneficiary dies before the probate process is complete? And what happens to their assets?
It depends on a few factors. The terms of the decedent’s Will and the beneficiary’s own estate plan can all impact the outcome of this occurrence. Let’s take a closer look.
When a Beneficiary Dies During the ‘Survival Period’
Probate is the formal process through which a deceased person’s affairs are formally settled. It can be a time-consuming process, and the more complex the estate, the longer probate can take.
If a named heir or beneficiary survives the decedent but then dies during the probate proceedings, the first step is to check the Will. Some wills have ‘survival periods’ outlined in them that are usually set at 90 days or less.
What if the Will has a ‘survival period’ and the beneficiary dies during this 90-day window? Then the executor will administer their share of the estate to someone else named in the Will. A contingent beneficiary.
But what if the beneficiary died after the ‘survival period’ but before probate proceedings were complete? Their share is now considered ‘vested.’ Which means these assets now belong to the estate of the deceased heir, and are subject to that person’s administration.
This is also the case if the original decedent named a beneficiary without a Will. Their share would pass to the beneficiary’s estate upon their death.
What About the Beneficiary’s Estate?
If assets are inherited by the deceased beneficiary’s estate, then another estate must be opened up for that deceased beneficiary and the proceedings will follow Florida statutes. The estate is subject to the following considerations:
- Does the beneficiary have a Last Will and Testament? This will determine who received the inherited portion of the previous estate.
- In the case of no Will, intestate laws will determine inheritance.
- The beneficiary’s estate will also likely be subject to additional and separate probate proceedings, unless there is eligibility for disposition without administration, which is highly unlikely in these circumstances.
The probate process can be confusing, costly, and stressful. But it doesn’t have to be. Hiring an attorney who specializes in probate administration with experience in these types of situations can provide you and your family with peace of mind.
Haimo Law’s 4-step unique proven process can help you leave your legacy in good hands. The alternative can mean significant taxes, chaos, court, costs, conflict, and a host of unpleasant and destructive surprises. Contact us today to get started.
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
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