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SUMMARY PROBATE ADMINISTRATION
Probate has a well-deserved reputation as being a lengthy and complex legal process. Thankfully, state law offers an alternative that helps people with limited means to pass their property on to their heirs more quickly after their death. This process is called summary administration.
Summary probate ensures that the decedent’s proper heirs receive the assets that they deserve while allowing creditors to take what they are owed. If a loved one has recently passed away and you believe that summary administration is an option, a knowledgeable probate attorney may be able to help guide you down this path.
WHAT IS SUMMARY PROBATE ADMINISTRATION?
Summary administration is a shortened form of Florida probate that does not require the appointment of a Florida personal representative. Florida summary administration usually requires less time, effort, and expense than formal administration. The average time frame is 3-6 months vs. 6-18 months 9 of a formal administration. It’s also less complicated, and the probate court doesn’t require as much documentation as a formal administration. At the same time, the court still addresses many key legal issues and can hear arguments concerning the authenticity of a will or the creditors’ rights.
There are two ways in which an estate can qualify for summary administration in Florida. For summary administration to be available:
The decedent must have been dead for more than two years, or
The value of the entire estate subject to administration in Florida, less the value of property exempt from the claims of creditors, must not exceed $75,000.
To begin the process, the person who will opening the estate, referred to as the Petitioner, will need to file a petition for summary administration with the court. The probate rules require that the petition include facts showing that the estate is eligible for summary administration, a list of assets and their values, certain information about the estate’s debt, and a plan for distributing the assets.
According to Florida law, the petition must include the signature of the decedent’s spouse and should also include the standard information about:
The decedent’s will, if any;
The decedent’s creditors;
All potential heirs, whether or not they are named in the will;
The decedent’s assets.
Once the court receives the petition and is satisfied that the estate qualifies, the court issues an order distributing the assets. Under Florida law, the court can order the direct distribution of this property to the decedent’s heirs. This differs from a formal administration that places this obligation in the hands of a personal representative. Unlike a formal administration, a personal representative is not appointed.
As a result, summary probate administration, with the help of the experienced attorneys at Nuñez Estate Law & Title, can help make the process quicker than the more complicated formal process.