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LegalGems
LegalGems, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 9679
Experience:  Private Practice; Elder Law Attorney; Estate Planning; Attorney Mentor
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Hello, My mother just passed away and did not have a will.

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Hello,

My mother just passed away and did not have a will. I am on the deed as well as the mortgage with her, and the deed states that we are joint tenants with rights of survivorship. I also own a car that states my name (primary) and her name which was setup that way so I could be on her insurance when I was younger. My mother had very little money in her checking account, but she owed about $7,000 in credit card debt. She also has been receiving bills in her name from the EMT service and Hospital where she died. As my sister and I are both not concerned with what little money she had in her checking account, do we really need to have a probate filed in the state of Florida? I know I have to record her death certificate in her county (once I receive it), but I am not sure if I am really required to do anything else if she had no investments or bank accounts that we were hoping to acquire. I appreciate your help.

LegalGems :

Hi; My goal is to provide you with great service - if you have any questions during our chat, please ask! I'll do my best to ensure your satisfaction! I am very sorry to hear of your loss. Since the house was held in joint tenancy with right of survivorship, there is no need to include this in the probate, as that property passes outside of property as a matter of law (by the manner in which title is held). Let me look into something. One moment please.

Customer:

Hello, were you still wanting me to hold while you were looking into everything?

LegalGems :

Yes, were you able to see the above?

Customer:

Yes, Thank you. Can I assume that the car is in the same situation then? My sister and I will decide how to split her jewelry and other items, but we don't want to bother with the little amount she had in her checking account as she had more debt anyway. Do we still need to file a probate?

LegalGems :

The fact that she owned real property does not prevent you using this form- since the property was held in joint tenancy with right of survival.

LegalGems :

I am going to wait a few minutes; then I will switch this to Q&A in case you are unable to view my answers in chat.

Customer:

I just want to make sure that we don't need to file a probate at all.

LegalGems :

How is title to the checking account held - and approximately how much money is in the account?

Customer:

She was on the checking account alone. No beneficiary. I would say less than $1,200 was in the account. She was on Disability so she did not have a normal income.

LegalGems :

Yes, the car would be in the same situation. One moment please.

LegalGems :

You won't need to file a formal probate. you will need to file the form for the Disposition of Personal Property without Administration- this is so the court has record of your mom's passing, and documentation that there was no other property in the estate.

Customer:

Am I still responsible for her hospital/ambulance fees?

LegalGems :

Some creditors may try to pressure you into paying- this is a violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and they cannot force you to pay these charges.

LegalGems :

It appears my last post did not go through-- if the estate is insolvent, then there is no money to pay these charges. The estate is responsible for these types of charges, and generally they are given priority. But an adult child is not responsible for their parent's expenses.

Customer:

And the filing of the Personal Property without Administration can be done without a will?

LegalGems :

Yes, there is a box to check - with a will or without. It sounds like your mom may not have left a will because she planned on her property passing outside of probate (ie the house being in joint tenancy with right of survivorship). That is a common estate planning strategy.

Customer:

Alright, and I think I found the form online for my county. So all I should have to do is file this and everything should be fine. No need to file a probate based on these circumstances and we don't have to worry about paying her credit card or those other fees?

LegalGems :

That is correct. But again, unscrupulous creditors may try and tell you you are responsible. As long as you didn't co-sign, there is no legal obligation.

Customer:

Thank you. I really appreciate all of your help on this.

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