The state of Florida does not allow automatic "transfer upon death" arrangements for deeds of real estate. If a Florida property owner passes away, the property must go through the probate court system for the county the decedent lived in.
If a Will Exists
Contact the trustee of the will (usually the decedent's attorney) and ask her to present the will to the local probate court.
Make certified copies of the decedent's certificate of death; the trustee will provide a list of parties who need a copy of the death certificate.
Pay the court filing fee.
Go through the decedent's records for recurring expenses (such as subscriptions to cable TV, insurance premiums) and records of outstanding debts.
Go to the reading of the will; the court will deduct an amount equal to any outstanding debts from the value of the estate and will assess the estate tax on the remainder. The remaining property, including the deed to any real estate, will go to the heir specified in the will.
If a Will Does Not Exist or Is Invalid
Contact a probate attorney.
Make certified copies of the decedent's death certificates. Have the probate attorney file a motion in probate court.
The courts will deduct the value of any outstanding debts from the assets of the decedent, and will then distribute them in accordance to Florida law; the state may well be forced to sell the real estate to settle the debts. If the assets can be resolved without selling the real estate, the real estate generally goes to the spouse or the closest living descendent. Estate taxes will be deducted from the estate before distribution, or the recipients of the property can arrange to pay it if they'd prefer to not liquidate the assets.
Ken Burnside has been writing freelance since 1990, contributing to publications as diverse as "Pyramid" and "Training & Simulations Journal." A Microsoft MVP in Excel, he holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Alaska. He won the Origins Award for Attack Vector: Tactical, a board game about space combat.