Probate is the process of gathering a deceased person’s property, paying their debts, and distributing the rest of the property to their family members and others they named in a will. Probate can be time-consuming and expensive, but a simplified form called summary probate administration is available in some cases. This process is less expensive and faster.

Speak with a local probate attorney about summary probate administration in Coconut Grove. They can explain whether your loved one’s estate is eligible, and if so, can guide you through the process.

Eligibility for Summary Administration

The simplified probate process is available to estates worth less than $75,000. It is also available when someone has been dead more than two years, regardless of the value of the estate.

Determining an estate’s value can be tricky and it is wise to consult a local attorney for help. Many assets do not count toward an estate’s value for probate purposes. Any asset that has a named beneficiary, like a retirement account, is not part of the estate. Assets held jointly with someone else, like a joint bank account or real estate with at least two people’s names on the title, goes directly to the co-owner and is not part of the estate.

When a deceased person has a surviving spouse or children, the Florida Statute §732.402 exempts certain property from their estate. The deceased person can pass along their homestead, two vehicles of no more than 15,000 pounds each, furnishings, appliances, and up to $1,000 of personal property. The value of this property will not count toward the probate estate.

How the Homestead Exemption Works

Many people hold most of their wealth in their family home. The law allows families to exclude the value of the decedent’s primary residence from the estate in most cases and keep it out of probate. This ensures that surviving family members do not need to sell a family home to pay their loved one’s debts.

If the home is in a municipality, the homestead exemption covers the structure itself plus one-half acre of property. If the home is in a rural area, the exemption can cover up to 160 contiguous acres of land, plus the home that sits on it. The decedent’s surviving family members can take immediate possession of the homestead but they must make mortgage payments and are responsible for paying the property taxes.

A lawyer in Coconut Grove can help a family member claim the homestead during summary probate administration. They can request a Court Order Determining Homestead when they request the court to open probate on the decedent’s estate. The Order provides the family member with clear title to the property and keeps its value out of the estate valuation.

Initiating a Summary Administration in Coconut Grove

The process begins when a deceased person’s family member or another interested person files a petition to open probate. The petition must demonstrate that the estate qualifies for summary probate administration because the decedent has been dead for two years or the estate’s value comes within the value limits. A Coconut Grove attorney prepares the petition and supporting documents to confirm they are filed correctly.

If the decedent owed money when they died, there must be enough cash in the estate to pay their bills. If some of their property must be sold to cover the decedent’s debts, summary administration is not an option.

There will be a hearing before a Probate Judge to confirm the estate is eligible for summary probate administration in Coconut Grove. If the Judge agrees the estate qualifies, they will appoint a family member to be the estate’s personal representative who must pay the decedent’s debts and distribute the remaining property according to the law.

Speak with a Coconut Grove Attorney About Summary Probate Administration Today

Managing a loved one’s affairs after their death can be overwhelming. However, the process is much easier if the estate qualifies for summary probate administration in Coconut Grove. Reach out to The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm to find out whether your loved one’s estate qualifies. Call us today and ask for a free case evaluation.