Estate Law Florida
What is “estate” law?
From a lawyer’s perspective, the term “estate” refers to many different things.
The Internal Revenue Service uses the term “gross estate” to mean every asset in which a decedent had an ownership interest on his or her date of death. This includes real estate, life insurance, bank accounts, stocks, etc. If a decedent dies with significant wealth, his estate is subject to an “estate tax” and the attorney will need to prepare a Federal Estate Tax Return, form 706.
The term “probate estate” refers only to those assets owned by the decedent in his or her sole name. Some decedents have nothing subject to probate, some have a few assets subject to probate, and other decedents have all of their assets subject to probate.
If a decedent had a revocable or “living” trust, then the assets owned by the trust are referred to as the “trust estate.” These assets are not subject to probate in the court system and are therefore separate and distinct from the probate estate. A decedent may have both a probate estate and a trust estate depending on the ownership of the assets at the time of death.
So the term “estate law” is an umbrella term that includes many subcategories: gross estate, probate estate, and trust estate. If an attorney practices estate law and is engaged to do “estate administration,” the work will include some or all of the various types of estates discussed above.