The process of probate court may seem confusing to many individuals. Essentially, probate matters deal with the distribution of the assets of a deceased person and to the payment of that person’s debts or financial obligations. 

The following information covers a couple of the basic facts about the functions of probate court. 

The necessity of probate court 

According to an informational pamphlet put out by the Florida Bar, a case must go through probate when the deceased who had financial assets did not have a legal will. The state requires the probate court to pass on these assets to the beneficiaries. In certain cases, even the presence of a legal will does not preclude the case going to court proceedings. This happens when the deceased has probate assets but he or she neglected to enter the will into the probate system. The probate process also ensures the bills of the deceased get paid to the correct creditors and that his or her financial affairs get settled. 

The order of asset distribution 

The legal term intestate refers to a person who dies without a will. The person’s assets, according to the internet site of the Florida Legislature, then go to the appropriate heirs in a specific order established by law. This order, simplified, goes as follows: 

  • Spouse 
  • Descendants or children 
  • Father and mother 
  • Bothers and sisters and their children 

Next in line comes the grandparents, if no other heirs exist. The court divides the assets in half when both maternal and paternal sets of grandparents remain alive. The term escheat refers to the situation where a person dies with an estate but has nobody who qualifies to receive the assets. In that situation, the assets go to the state of Florida.