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Florida Probate Statute 733.801: Delivery of Devises and Distributive Shares

In Florida, the job of a personal representative is to take care of the activities required to tie up the loose ends of a decedent’s estate. One of the last major activities is to transfer decedent’s probate assets to his (or her) beneficiaries if he died testate, or heirs if he died intestate. Before estate property can be handed over to the beneficiaries or heirs, under the Florida Probate Code, there are procedures that must be followed and timetables that must be adhered to. Whether you are a personal representative, beneficiary, or heir, to learn more about the process for distributing assets during the Estate administration process, including the requirements of Florida Statutes, section 733.801- Delivery of devises and distributive shares, contact an experienced Fort Lauderdale probate lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates. With over 20 years of experience representing clients in estate matters from routine to complex, we have the skill and knowledge to ensure that all of the requirements of the Florida Probate Code are followed and that your interests are protected.

Before Asset Distribution

Regardless of whether or not the decedent left a will, before estate assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries or heirs, the personal representative must make sure he (or she) has paid all debts owed by the estate that are valid and properly filed. Soon after the personal representative is granted letters of administration from a Florida probate court judge, the personal administrator must begin the process of figuring out who debts the estate owes. In some instances it will be rather easy for the personal representative to identify creditors. A quick look through the decedent’s mail and personal papers will likely provide details about debt. The law requires that the personal representative make a diligent effort to identify creditors. Then the personal representative must notify the creditors of the decedent’s death and that there is a probate proceeding underway.

For known creditors, the personal representative must service notice. For others, the personal representative must publish notice in a local paper. Then the creditors must file claims. For creditors who were known and received personal service, they must file claims within 30 days of service. For creditors who received notice through publication, they must file their claims within 3 months of the date that the notice was first published. As an experienced Fort Lauderdale probate lawyer will explain, with a few exceptions, failure to adhere to those timelines will result in the claim being forever barred. Thus, it is critical for both personal representatives and creditors to understand the time restrictions on filing claims.

If the personal representative deems a claim to be valid and no other interested party objects to the claim, then the personal representative must pay it—as long as there is sufficient money in the estate to pay. The personal representative is not required to commence paying claims until at least 5 months has passed from the first publication of notice to creditors. All approved claims must be paid within 1 year of the date of the first publication of notice to creditors. Claims are paid out of estate assets.

Distribution of Assets

Generally speaking, distribution of probate assets can commence only after estate debts have been paid. Typically this means that the personal representative will not commence asset distribution until the expiration of at least 90 days after the date that notice was first published. However, under FL. Stat, section 733.801- Delivery of devises and distributive shares, the personal representative is not required to make distributions before the expiration of 5 months from the granting of letters of administration to the personal representative. The personal representative has up to a year to make distributions.

As an experienced probate attorney in Fort Lauderdale will explain, only assets that are part of the decedent’s probate estate are subject to the rules related to asset distribution during a probate proceeding. Non-probate property passes to beneficiaries or others outside of the probate process. For example, proceeds of a life insurance policy with a beneficiary who is not the decedent’s estate is non probate property. Instead of being subject to the estate administration process, it will go to the beneficiaries named in the policy. Property that the decedent transferred to a living trust during his (or her) lifetime is not probate property. That property will go to the beneficiaries named in the trust according to the terms of the trust. If the decedent owned property such as real estate as a tenant a joint tenant is not probate property. Such property will automatically pass to the other joint tenant or tenants. Retirement accounts are also not probate property as they transfer to the designated beneficiaries. Examples include 401(k) plan or IRAs.

On the other hand, property that is typically part of a decedent’s probate estate includes property that the decedent ones individually and that does not have designated beneficiary. Examples include personal property such as clothing, jewelry, furniture, appliances, vehicles, and bank accounts. However, if the bank is a joint account or has a pay-on-death designation, it is not probate property.

Related Statutory Provisions
  1. Proceedings for compulsory payment of devises or distributive interest: § 733.802, Fla. Stat.
  2. Encumbered property; liability for payment: § 733.803, Fla. Stat.
  3. Advancement: § 733.806, Fla. Stat.
FL. Stat, Section 733.801- Delivery of Devises and Distributive Shares
  1. No personal representative shall be required to pay or deliver any devise or distributive share or to surrender possession of any land to any beneficiary until the expiration of 5 months from the granting of letters.
  2. Except as otherwise provided in the will, the personal representative shall pay as an expense of administration the reasonable expenses of storage, insurance, packing, and delivery of tangible personal property to a beneficiary.
Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

Beneficiaries and heirs are often anxious to receive distributions from a decedent’s estate based on the terms of a will or the requirements of intestate succession. This is understandable as the family of loved ones is often dependent on the financial support provided by the decedent’s estate. However, before beneficiaries or heirs can receive their distributions, the personal representative must complete other steps, including reviewing and paying estate debt. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates understand how frustrating estate administration can be. We can help ensure that the process is completed as quickly and efficient as possible given the requirements of Florida law and the specifics of the estate involved. If you have questions related to the duties and authority of the personal representative, including the requirements of Florida Probate Code, section 733.801- Delivery of devises and distributive shares. Contact us attorneys at 561-710-4000 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.