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proceeds - to probate or not to probate?

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My brother passed away in Florida a year and a half ago. He had a small life insurance policy of $17,000 through his work and named our mother as the beneficiary, however she passed away six months prior to my brother. As my brother's sole surviving family member, I'm entitled to the proceeds -which I have not yet claimed.

My brother did not leave a will and I did not raise an estate for my brother because he left no valuable property and I took care of all his funeral expenses. I know he had some medical and credit card debt (less than the amount of the policy), however since I was not obliged to them I simply shrugged them off.

My question is if I claim this policy, will I need to have to raise an estate, go through probate court and let his creditors have first pickings at the life insurance proceeds? Or, will the insurance company send a check directly to me? The claim representative I spoke to recently told me that because the policy was under a certain amount, in the state of Florida, they'd just send the check to me and were only concerned with funeral debt, and since I did not keep track of my brother's debt, I wouldn't be able to list them on the "affidavit of heirship and indebtedness and preference beneficiary's affidavit" form they sent me. Of course, the rep was very vague and I'm not sure what she was implying and it only makes me nervous.

Can anyone vouch for this? I really, really appreciate any advice in this matter. Thank you in advance.


Senior Member
IN many states -- and I am NOT a FL lawyer -- there is a VERY short SPECIAL statute of limitations that creeps in upon a death -- as short as 1 year. If that is the case in FL, and if the creditors did not sue within the state's time frame, you'd be the sole heir and there would be no valid claims of creditors.

I strongly urge you to speak to a FL lawyer, pay a few hundred dollars, and get advice you can rely on without risking morally improper conduct or perjury (in terms of what you'd have to say on the affidavit). It's worth it. And if the statute of limitations is 2 years, you might just delay filing the claim....

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