As a probate attorney in Florida, when meeting with clients I often get asked the question:

“Why is a probate necessary when my mom (or fill a name in the blank) has a Last Will and Testament leaving all of their assets to me?”.

In Florida if someone dies and leaves assets titled only in their name individually, assuming no beneficiary is named, then the only way to transfer assets to the the named beneficiary is to open a probate with the Court. Even if you have a parents or other family members die leaving a Will naming you as the sole beneficiary, the only way for you to legally transfer title of the assets into your name is to do a probate for that person. Usually you will need to hire a probate attorney to assist with this process as there are specific procedures and documents that must be filed with the Court to properly do the transfer.

The exception would be if the assets name a joint owner, such as with a bank account titled in two names. If this is the case then the bank account would pass to the survivor and the beneficiary would only need to show a certified copy of the decedent’s death certificate to have the account put in their name solely. Another exception would be if you are dealing with assets that name a beneficiary, such as with life insurance, retirements accounts etc. These assets do not need to go through probate and can be fairly easily claimed by the beneficiary named.

If you are trying to determine whether or not you need to do a probate for a deceased family member I would encourage you to find a probate attorney in your area to speak to about it.