If you have heard anything about the Florida probate process, it is likely to not have been something good. You may have heard how long and complicated the process can be. You may have heard how frustrating and expensive it can get. It’s true. Probate can be lengthy, time consuming, and a real pain to deal with. Fortunately, there are short cuts available to some estates through summary administration.
What is Summary Administration?
Summary administration is, essentially, a shortened version of the full-blown Florida probate process. It does not even require a personal representative to be formally appointed. Summary administration is commonly shorter, easier, and less expensive than the administration of the estate that must happen during the probate process. Not all estates, however, qualify for summary administration.
There are two situations in which an estate would qualify for summary administration. First, if the value of the estate, including exempt property and homestead property, is $75,000 or less, then it would qualify for summary administration. Second, if the decedent has been dead for over two years, then their estate would qualify for summary administration.
To initiate the summary administration, a petition needs to be filed with the court. Any beneficiary or any person who was nominated as personal representative under the decedent’s will can file the petition which must include certain key pieces of information. For instance, the petition must list estate assets and their values as well as information about the estate’s debt. This information will help demonstrate the estate’s eligibility for summary administration. The petition must also list beneficiaries of the estate as well as whether there is a surviving spouse. Upon the court qualifying an estate for summary administration, it will order the distribution of the estate’s assets. The distribution may occur immediately.
One of the biggest differences between summary administration and formal administration, which is the full probate process for estates that do not qualify for summary administration, is that summary administration can be completed within 1-3 months. Formal administration, on the other hand, takes at least 6 months to be completed as this is the period of time required to grant creditors the time to file claims against the estate. Summary administration also offers lower costs than formal administration. Attorney’s fees are likely to be reduced. There is no personal representative entitled to a fee. There is no requirement that notice to creditors be published and so that cost is avoided as well.
While there are many benefits to summary administration, it is important to be aware of some of the potential downsides. While the fact that there is no personal representative appointed can be a good thing, it also means that there is no one appointed to do things like search for hidden assets. Also, there is no one who will negotiate or contest creditor claims made against the estate.
Estate Planning Attorney
Probate can be a time and financial drain. It is worth looking for ways to navigate around it. Verras Law can help with that. Contact Verras Law today.