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Florida Statutes, Section 733.213: Probate as Prerequisite to Judicial Construction of Will

Probate is necessary to settle the outstanding business that a decedent left when he (or she) passed away. During the process the personal representative makes sure that the decedent’s financial affairs are put in order. In fact, paying creditors is a top priority of the probate process. In addition, probate is necessary to pass ownership of the assets that the decedent left to his or her beneficiaries. Even if the decedent left a will, the will must be validated through the probate process before it is legally effective to pass ownership of assets to the beneficiaries mentioned in the will. Indeed, according to Florida Statutes, section 733.213- Probate as prerequisite to judicial construction of will, before a court can interpret the terms of a will, the will must first go through probate. If you have questions about probate or about how to interpret the terms of a will, contact a skilled Florida probate attorney at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates.


In Florida probate is a legal process that is supervised by the circuit court. It is initiated when someone files a decedent’s original will with the circuit along with a petition to admit it to probate. The circuit court judge will review the petition and will and make a determination as to whether or not the will is valid. If the will is valid, the judge will admit it to probate, and issue letters of administration, naming a personal representative.

During probate, the personal representative is responsible for identifying the decedent’s assets, paying his (or her) debts, and distributing the decedent’s assets to the beneficiaries named in the will. Typically, before assets can be distributed to beneficiaries, the personal representative must first pay from estate assets the decedent’s funeral expenses, expenses related to estate administration, the decedent’s debts, and other valid claims against the estate. The personal representative will then distribute to the beneficiaries any assets that remain in the estate.

Assets Subject to Probate

As a Florida probate lawyer will explain, probate administration applies only to probate assets. Assets that are part of a decedent’s probate estate include property that was solely owned by the decedent. This commonly includes the decedent’s personal property such as cars, clothing, jewelry, and household items. It also property such as real estate titled in the decedent’s name only, or that the decedent co-owned as a tenant in common. Real estate that the decedent owned as a joint tenant or tenant by the entirety with rights of survivorship would not be probate assets. A bank account or investment account would also be probate property as long as the decedent solely owned it. If a financial account included a payable on death (POD) or transferable on death (TOD) designation, or was held jointly with another person with rights of survivorship, such an assets would not be part of the decedent’s probate estate.

Other examples of property that would not be probate assets include proceeds of a life insurance policy, annuities, IRAs, and other retirement accounts. These types of assets all include designated beneficiaries. Upon the death of the beneficiary, these assets go directly to that person.

Effect of Probate on Will

As an experienced probate attorney in Florida will explain, when a will is admitted to probate, the court has made a determination that the will is valid. This is important not only for purposes of estate administration and distribution of assets, it is also important for other legal proceedings that require a determination of asset ownership. However, as stated in FL. Stat, section 733.213- Probate as prerequisite to judicial construction of will, a court may not issue an order construing a will until it has been admitted to probate. This is the case even if the will is self-proving.

Related Statutory Provisions
  1. Petition: § 733.202, Fla. Stat.
  2. Establishment and probate of lost or destroyed will: § 733.207, Fla. Stat.
  3. Adjudication before issuance of letters: § 733.2123, Fla. Stat.
  4. Probate as prerequisite to judicial construction of will: § 733.213, Fla. Stat.
FL. Stat, section 733.213: Probate as Prerequisite to Judicial Construction of Will

A will may not be construed until it has been admitted to probate.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

When a will has admitted to probate, the will has been legally proven to be valid. Thus, it can be used not only as the basis of distributing property during estate administration, but it can also be used as proof of ownership in other legal proceedings. If you have concerns over the ownership of property that is part of a probate estate, contact an experienced probate attorney serving Florida. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have over 20 years of experience representing clients in matters related to settling estates, estate litigation, disputes with creditors, and understand the requirements of Florida Statutes, section 733.213- Probate as prerequisite to judicial construction of will. Contact an attorney in our office at 561-710-4000 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.

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