North Palm Beach Probate Process for Residents & Non-Residents

In Florida, probate is a court-supervised process in which a deceased person’s assets are identified and beneficiaries are determined. The probate process is designed to ensure that potential creditors have an opportunity to pursue claims against the estate, as well as provide a forum for identifying the correct beneficiaries to receive the decedent’s property. Residents of North Palm Beach seeking a probate lawyer will be glad to learn that Florida Probate Law Firm proudly offers it attorney services from their headquarters in Palm Beach County.

Florida Probate Process

When someone passes away leaving a valid Last Will & Testament, anyone with possession of the Will must file the original document with the correct circuit court, aka probate court. The original Last Will & Testament and any probate pleadings will be filed in the county of last residence for the decedent. If the decedent passed away as a resident of North Palm Beach, then Palm Beach County would be correct jurisdiction for a domiciliary probate proceeding. If there is no Last Will & Testament for the decedent, then any probate assets will be distributed according to the Florida intestacy statute, which provides a default distribution scheme for assets based on familial relationships.

In North Palm Beach, the probate process is handled by the 15th Judicial Circuit Court. Depending on the petitioner’s address, the county will determine which of four county courthouses the case is assigned to. For residents of North Palm Beach with a probate attorney, cases are assigned to the nearest courthouse. There are five Courthouse locations located throughout Palm Beach County, Florida:

Probate Assets

City Seal of Palm Beach County Florida.svgThe most relevant factor in determining if probate is necessary is assessing if there are any probate assets as opposed to non-probate assets. Probate assets are those titled in the sole name of the decedent and do not have a beneficiary designation or POD feature. All probate assets are frozen and can only be transferred through the probate process. There are many types of non-probate assets, such as real estate titled in the sole name of the decedent, jointly held property, IRAs and life insurance proceeds payable to a beneficiary, and more.

The first step in identifying probate assets is to confirm how the decedent’s real estate is titled by visiting the North Palm Beach County Property Appraiser. If the property appraiser report and most recent deed confirm that the real estate, aka real property, is in the sole name of the decedent, then probate will be required in order to eventually sell or transfer the property. Often the goal is to sell the piece of real estate during the probate process and to have to proceeds divided among the identified beneficiaries. It is advisable to wait until an estate is open and a personal representative is appointed before executing any type of sales contract.

The second step for identifying probate and non-probate assets is to check the mail of the decedent. Financial institutions and insurance companies will periodically send correspondence regarding accounts. The personal representative of the estate, or the immediate family members of the decedent, should have the decedent’s mail forwarded to a convenient location by requesting a change of address or mail forwarding with the United States Postal Service. The request can be made on the USPS website, or in person at a branch location.

Restricted Depositories 

When real property will be sold in probate or a guardianship, only some Florida counties require that the sale proceeds be held in an attorney’s trust account or a restricted depository account. Most formal probate administrations in North Palm Beach utilize restricted depositories. A restricted depository requires court authorization to release funds, including to pay estate expenses. A Petition for an Order to Sell Real Estate must be submitted to the court to authorize the sale of real estate. Unless waived or otherwise ordered, executors must file a bond or place assets in a restricted depository or trust account.

Consult with an experienced North Palm Beach probate attorney for the best techniques for expediting the sale of real property during probate, establishing a restricted depository, and navigating complex court requirements.

Ancillary Probate for Non-Residents

Ancillary probate refers to a secondary probate proceeding that takes place in any state other than the domiciliary state. Ancillary probate is necessary to transfer or sell real estate, aka real property, located in any state other than the decedent’s domiciliary state.

After someone passes away, the first step in the probate process is to establish the domiciliary estate in the decedent’s state of residence. Once a personal representative or executor is appointed for the domiciliary proceeding, the next step is to petition to initiate the ancillary probate in the county in which the real estate is located.

As an example, Steve lives in New York but owns a vacation home in North Palm Beach. When Steve passes away, his Last Will & Testament must be submitted to his local probate court in New York to begin the domiciliary probate process. A second probate process must also be started in Palm Beach County, Florida to transfer the home in North Palm Beach to his beneficiaries, or to clear title to a new owner via the sales process.

Generally, ancillary probate administration is required in Florida when someone who was not a resident dies and:

  • Owned real estate
  • Owned a timeshare
  • Owned property or liability that would require the signature of an appointed personal representative in Florida for transfer, collect, or discharge

Ancillary probate in North Palm Beach can complicate the already time-consuming and sometimes costly probate process, but working through it with an attorney is sometimes the only way to pass Florida real estate to the rightful beneficiaries. Because ancillary probate has the potential to prolong the domiciliary probate proceeding, it is crucial to work with a skilled Florida ancillary probate attorney.

An experienced ancillary probate lawyer in North Palm Beach can assist with every step of the probate process, and potentially serve as a personal representative to prevent potential delays and finalize the probate as quickly and smoothly as possible.

If you need assistance with probate in North Palm Beach, contact the Florida Probate Law Firm for a free 30 minute consultation at (561) 210-5500.

The Florida Probate Law Firm proudly serves all neighborhoods in North Palm Beach, FL

  • Avalon at Boca Raton
  • Boca Bridges
  • Boca Del Mar
  • Boca Falls
  • Boca Harbour
  • Boca Winds
  • Camino Gardens
  • Cimarron
  • Deerhurst
  • Golden Harbour
  • Hamptons at Boca Raton
  • Harbour East
  • Heatherwood of Boca Raton
  • Pheasant Walk
  • Polo Club Movers
  • Por La Mar
  • Rio Del Mar
  • Royal Palm Polo
  • Seasons
  • Spanish Village
  • Stonebridge Country Club
  • The Sanctuary


If you need assistance with probate in North Palm Beach, contact the Florida Probate Law Firm for a free 30 minute consultation at (561) 210-5500.