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What is Summary Administration?
Summary administration is a simplified version of the probate process in which no personal representative is appointed. When transferring an estate worth $75,000.00 or less, you can petition for summary administration and avoid the formal probate process. When an estate is eligible for summary administration, it usually takes less time, effort, and money to administer the estate.
When does an Estate qualify for Summary Administration?
Summary administration is available in the following two scenarios:
The total value of the estate subject to administration in Florida, including exempt and homestead property, does not exceed $75,000; or the decedent has been deceased for more than two years.
How does Summary Administration work?
The process of Florida summary administration begins with the filing of a petition in court. Any beneficiary or a person named as a personal representative in the decedent’s will may file a petition for summary administration.
According to the probate rules, the petition must include information demonstrating that the estate is eligible for summary administration, a list of assets and their values, specific information about the estate’s debt, and a plan for distributing the assets. All beneficiaries’ and the surviving spouse’s (if any) information must be included. When the court receives the petition and determines that the estate qualifies, it issues an order dividing the assets. In contrast to a formal administration, no personal representative is appointed.
Following the entry of the order admitting the estate to probate, the assets of the estate are immediately distributed to beneficiaries and creditors.
Differences between Summary Administration and Formal Administration
In Florida, one distinction between a summary administration and a formal administration is the amount of time required to complete and close out the administration. In general, summary administration can be completed in 1-3 months. Formal administration will take at least 6 months to complete and close out the estate administration. Summary administrations are typically faster than formal administrations because they involve fewer filings and steps.
Summary administration is ideal when the deceased person had no creditors (i.e. people or entities to whom he or she owed money), the deceased person’s only assets are exempt assets (protected from creditors), or the deceased person has been dead for more than two years and all creditors have been barred.
The costs of summary administration are significantly lower than those of formal administration. The attorney’s fee is reduced. There is no personal representative to pay a fee to, and there are no costs to publish notices to creditors because it is not required by statute (although it is at times still recommended).
Disadvantages of Summary Administration
Although summary administration has benefits such as lower costs and a faster process, there are some potential drawbacks to filing for summary administration. Some disadvantages are as follows:
- Because no personal representative is authorized to act on behalf of the estate, there is no practical way to discover hidden assets or negotiate with and object to creditors.
- Transferring assets can be more difficult if banks or other financial institutions refuse to cooperate with the person in charge of the estate’s affairs.
- The two-year waiting period to avoid creditors on estates with non-exempt property can cause family disputes to drag on.
- It is up to the family to account for all of the deceased’s assets prior to filing if there is no formal inventory of assets.
Is summary administration your best option? Finally, it is determined by the type of assets left behind by your loved one, the size of the estate, and whether or not creditors must be paid. That is why it is critical to work with an experienced estate administration attorney. At Nuñez Estate Law & Title, our experienced estate and probate team are here to provide the necessary guidance. We will help you decide the best strategy for your family’s estate and ensure you satisfy the court’s requirements at every stage of the process and we can help you be sure your family members are provided for after a loved one’s death. We serve the entire state of Florida so call us at (305) 962-5929 with any questions you may have.