A loved one’s death causes grief and disorientation. People sometimes overlook the many practical tasks that family members must attend to after a relative’s death. The law in Florida offers a process to relieve some of the administrative burdens of closing a person’s estate. However, the streamlined procedure is available only for estates that meet specific legal requirements.

Summary probate administration in South Miami could be an option for you. A local probate attorney can advise on whether you might take advantage of this simplified process.

Determining Whether Summary Probate Administration is Possible

Florida Statutes § 735.201 allows the family of a deceased person to use the summary probate administration process if the death occurred more than two years ago or if the estate’s value is less than $75,000. Although it seems the process would be out of reach for many upper- and middle-income people, careful estate planning could make summary probate administration possible in some cases.

Only those assets the decedent held solely in their name count toward their estate’s value. An asset is not part a deceased person’s estate if it is held: (1) in trust, (2) with a named beneficiary, or (3) jointly with another person. Many people hold much of their wealth in trusts or assets with beneficiaries or joint owners, which do not count toward the estate’s value.

In addition, the state’s homestead laws keep the value of the home from applying to the estate in most cases. Instead, the decedent’s heirs immediately obtain the right to the home, although they must make mortgage payments and are responsible for taxes. A summary probate administration attorney in South Miami can advise a family on whether the value of the decedent’s home must be counted toward the estate.

How Summary Probate Administration Works

A family should consult an attorney soon after a loved one’s death to determine how best to access the assets and move the estate through probate. If the decedent left a homestead that a family member has claimed, the lawyer could request a Court Order Determining Homestead, which provides the family member with clear title to the property and keeps its value out of the estate valuation.

A family member must file a Petition with the Probate Court identifying the deceased person, their surviving heirs, and the property they left. The petition could ask for summary probate administration if the deceased’s solely owned assets are worth less than $75,000 and there is sufficient cash to pay their debts.

The petitioner must attend a hearing before a Judge, who must verify the estate is eligible for summary administration. If the Judge agrees the estate qualifies, the petitioner must pay the decedent’s debts and distribute the rest of the property to their heirs. The process could be completed within a few weeks.

Benefits of Summary Probate Administration

Speed is one of the benefits of summary administration in South Miami. Formal probate can last months or years, and heirs cannot access the deceased person’s assets until the process is complete. This can sometimes lead to financial hardship that summary probate avoids.

Summary probate is also far less expensive than formal administration. The formal process often requires significant help from an attorney. Although a family using summary probate administration benefits from consulting a lawyer, legal fees incurred are usually insignificant compared to formal administration.

Finally, summary administration is easy on the family member who takes the role of the estate’s personal representative. Collecting limited assets is relatively simple and there is no need to sell assets to pay the deceased person’s debts. Managing an estate can create substantial stress but this streamlined process keeps it to a minimum.

Call a South Miami Attorney for Advice on Summary Probate Administration Today

If you believe your family could take advantage of summary probate administration in South Miami, contact The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm. We can confirm if your family member’s estate is eligible and walk you through the necessary steps. Call us today for a free consultation.