You may wonder why your family must wade through formal probate administration and several court appearances with a personal representative after your death if you do not own substantial assets. There is an avenue to avoid the time-consuming process if you meet the criteria. 

Summary probate administration saves time, money, and effort that your personal representative would spend in formal administration. You do not even need to name a personal representative, which is mandatory in formal probate administration. To be eligible for summary administration, an estate must be worth no more than $75,000 or the person must have been deceased for more than two years.

If you are a decedent’s beneficiary interested in summary probate administration in Coral Way, our trained probate attorneys can help you make the right decisions for your situation.

Summary Administration Begins with a Petition

Both formal and summary administration begin with a petition by an interested party. The summary administration petition can be filed by any beneficiary or the personal representative of the decedent named in their will, if there is one. Any surviving spouse must sign and verify the petition, which must include:

  • Facts supporting that the decedent’s estate is eligible for summary administration;
  • An accounting of the decedent’s assets and the value of each;
  • Information about the debts of the estate;
  • A distribution plan for the assets.

The Probate Judge will determine whether the estate qualifies for summary administration and issue an order to distribute the assets immediately to beneficiaries and valid creditors (beneficiaries often wait six months or more for disbursements in formal administrations). Beneficiaries who need help with filing a petition for summary probate administration can contact a Coral Way attorney for help.

Creditor Claims

In formal probate administration, the personal representative prioritizes creditors before disbursing assets to heirs and beneficiaries. If a decedent has been dead less than two years, the petitioner in a summary probate administration must make a reasonable search for any known or easily discovered creditors, serve them with the summary administration petition, and arrange to dispose of any assets that will go toward payments to creditors.

If the decedent has been dead for more than two years, creditors are out of luck and will be barred under Florida law from collecting the debts. The petition does not need to include creditor claims in this situation.

The Role of Florida Homestead

Most people in the state take advantage of the Florida Homestead Exemption for their primary residence because it offers a tax advantage and shields the property from some legal issues. If the decedent owned a home here it is considered an asset that is passed to heirs, but without a clear title. 

A second proceeding must be brought with the summary administration seeking an Order Determining Homestead so a clear title can be issued. Often the Judge enters both orders at the same time but not all of them do, which can delay a probate proceeding by up to three months. 

Additionally, a Homestead is not factored into the $75,000 limit on assets for summary administration. If the home is the decedent’s only asset, no matter how much it is worth, the estate will qualify for summary administration.

Find a Coral Way Attorney to Conduct Your Summary Probate Administration Today

When an estate is valued at less than $75,000 or the decedent has been dead for more than two years, there is a simplified probate process that is less expensive to administer, faster, and delivers assets according to the decedent’s wishes in weeks instead of months. It is called summary probate administration. 

You must still file a petition if you are an interested party, assets must be accounted for, and creditors identified with reasonable effort. The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm can assist you, beginning with a free case evaluation. As an interested party to a simple estate, we can conduct your summary probate administration in Coral Way.