The Probate division of the Clerk’s Office maintains court records of the assets or estates of deceased persons, trusts, appointments of guardians of minors, incapacitated persons and adults who voluntarily request the appointment of a guardian of their property.

Records are also kept pertaining to Mental Health cases consisting of involuntary examinations and placements under the Baker Act, substance abuse cases pursuant to the Marchman Act, involuntary treatment for tuberculosis, adult protective cases and expedited judicial intervention concerning medical treatment procedures.

Frequently Asked Questions

What assets are subject to probate?
This question is best answered by answering what assets are NOT subject to probate. The assets listed below are not subject to probate – ALL other assets not listed are subject to probate in Florida:

  • a Revocable Trust
  • an asset with a named Beneficiary (life insurance or annuity)
  • an asset with Joint Title With Right of Survivorship (bank accounts or real estate)
  • an asset with Pay on Death or Transfer on Death designations (bank account)
  • Homestead Property (primary residence of Florida domicile)
  • Tenancy by the Entireties

Do you have to file a probate case when a person dies?
Whether or not an estate is required to go through Probate depends on the assets that the decedent owned at the time of his or her death. For instance, if a decedent solely owned any real property at the time of his or her death, the estate would be required to go through Probate in order to transfer title of that real property to the decedent’s heirs or beneficiaries. In this type of a situation, the beneficiaries or heirs would need to seek the assistance of an attorney as our office cannot give legal advice.

There are times however, when our office can assist heirs and beneficiaries through a process referred to as a Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration. This process is also sometimes referred to as a Small Estate Proceeding. Please refer to F.S. 735.301 to determine if you are eligible for this type of process. This form may not be used when real property is involved. If you are unsure as to whether this process applies to your situation, you may wish to contact an attorney.

Do I have to file the decedent’s will with the Court and is there a deadline for filing?
Pursuant to F.S. 732.901 the Custodian of the original Last Will and Testament of the deceased person must file and deposit the Will with the Clerk of the Circuit Court having venue of the estate of the decedent within 10 days after receiving information that the testator (a person who dies leaving a will) is deceased.

The statute also states that the custodian of the will must supply the clerk with the date of death and social security number of the testator upon deposit. Our office also requires that a death certificate be filed with the original will. Please be advised that there is no charge or filing fee to deposit a will with our office.

Upon depositing a will with our office, the depositor will receive a Receipt for Deposit of Will which includes the case number, date of filing, and the seal of the Wakulla County Clerk of the Circuit Court. This receipt is something that should be placed with other important documents concerning the deceased. Also you will receive 1 courtesy certified copy of Will on Deposit.

In some instances, the company or office holding assets of the deceased will require a certified copy of the Last Will and Testament to transfer the assets in question. It is always a good idea to contact the company or office and inquire as to what is needed to complete the transfer. Our office can provide you with certified copies of the will at the rate of $1.00 per page, plus a $2.00 charge for certification.

What documents are needed to file a Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration?                               
The required forms and documentation for a Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration are as follows:

  • Original Last Will and Testament of the decedent, if one exists
  • Death Certificate (original or certified copy from the Official Records Dept.) NO COPIES
  • Copy of the statement from funeral home showing by whom the bill was paid
  • Signed and notarized consents from all heirs, if any
  • Copy of the bank statement, stock certificates, insurance checks, policy value information forms, or any related information regarding the assets that you are attempting to transfer with this procedure.
  • Affidavit of heirs

Once these required forms and documentation are in order, please come to the Probate Division for assistance. One of our clerk’s will assist you in completing the petition for this procedure and will present it to the presiding probate judge. The filing fee is due at the time the Petition is filed.  If the judge approves the petition, an Order for Payment of Funds will be entered by the probate court which directs that the assets in question be distributed as outlined in the petition.

If you have any questions please call our office at 850-926-0301.