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The Florida Statutes

The 2020 Florida Statutes

Title XLII
ESTATES AND TRUSTS
Chapter 735
PROBATE CODE: SMALL ESTATES
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F.S. 735.304
735.304 Disposition without administration of intestate property in small estates.
(1) No administration shall be required or formal proceedings instituted upon the estate of a decedent who has died intestate leaving only personal property exempt under the provisions of s. 732.402, personal property exempt from the claims of creditors under the Florida Constitution, and nonexempt personal property the value of which does not exceed the sum of $10,000 and the amount of preferred funeral expenses and reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses of the last 60 days of the last illness, provided the decedent has been deceased for more than 1 year and no administration of the decedent’s estate is pending in this state.
(2) Any heir at law of the decedent entitled to a share of the intestate estate pursuant to s. 732.102 or s. 732.103 may by affidavit request distribution of assets of the decedent through informal application under this section. The affidavit must be signed and verified by the surviving spouse, if any, and any heirs at law, except that joinder in the affidavit is not required of an heir who will receive a full intestate share under the proposed distribution of the personal property. Before the filing of the affidavit, the affiant must make a diligent search and reasonable inquiry for any known or reasonably ascertainable creditors, and the proposed distribution must make provision for payment of those creditors to the extent that assets are available or the creditors must consent to the proposed distribution. The affidavit must be served in the manner of formal notice upon all heirs at law who have not joined in the affidavit; upon all known or reasonably ascertainable creditors of the decedent; and, if the decedent at the time of death was over the age of 55 years of age, upon the Agency for Health Care Administration.
(3) If the court is satisfied that subsection (1) is applicable and the affidavit filed by the heir at law meets the requirements of subsection (2), the court, by letter or other writing under the seal of the court, may authorize the payment, transfer, disposition, delivery, or assignment of the tangible or intangible personal property to those persons entitled.
(a) Any individual, corporation, or other person paying, transferring, delivering, or assigning personal property under the authorization shall be forever discharged from liability thereon.
(b) Bona fide purchasers for value from those to whom personal property of the decedent has been paid, transferred, delivered, or assigned shall take the property free of all claims of creditors of the decedent and all rights of the surviving spouse and all other beneficiaries or heirs at law of the decedent.
(c) Personal property of the decedent that is not exempt from claims of creditors and that remains in the possession of those to whom it has been paid, delivered, transferred, or assigned shall continue to be liable for claims against the decedent until barred as provided in the Florida Probate Code. Any known or reasonably ascertainable creditor who did not consent to the proposed distribution and for whom provision for payment was not made may enforce the claim and, if the creditor prevails, shall be awarded costs, including reasonable attorney fees, against those who joined in the affidavit.
(d) Recipients of the decedent’s personal property under this section shall be personally liable for a pro rata share of all lawful claims against the estate of the decedent, but only to the extent of the value on the date of distribution of the personal property actually received by each recipient, exclusive of the property exempt from claims of creditors under the constitution and statutes of Florida.
(e) Except as otherwise provided in s. 733.710, after 2 years from the death of the decedent, neither the decedent’s estate nor those to whom it may be distributed shall be liable for any claim against the decedent, unless within that time proceedings have been taken for the enforcement of the claim.
(f) Any heir or devisee of the decedent who was lawfully entitled to share in the estate but who was not included in the distribution under this section may enforce all rights in appropriate proceedings against those who signed the affidavit or received distribution of personal property and, if successful, shall be awarded costs including reasonable attorney fees as in chancery actions.
History.s. 3, ch. 2020-110.