5 Facts about Summary Administration in Florida
Probate can be a cumbersome process, and some estates are not large enough to require formal probate. For this reason, Florida has created something called “summary administration.” This is a streamlined form of probate that is available in some situations. Our probate attorney in The Villages takes a closer look at 5 facts you should know about this process.
No Personal Representative is Required in Summary Administration
The personal representative is the person appointed by the court to carry out probate. In formal probate, this person collects estate assets, keeps them safe, and pays claims made against the state for unpaid bills, for example. If the estate is sued, the personal representative is responsible for defending the estate. Most wills name a personal representative, though family members can challenge this person’s appointment.
Summary administration dispenses with personal representatives.
There are 2 Ways an Estate Can Qualify for Summary Administration
An estate is eligible for summary administration if:
- Your loved one has been dead for more than 2 years. Florida bars most creditor claims after 2 years, so the administration of the estate can go ahead unimpeded with having to deal with creditor disputes.
- The entire value of the estate is $75,000 or less once property exempt from creditors has been deducted.
If the estate does not meet either of these criteria, then it cannot go through summary administration.
The Court Is Still Involved
Though summary administration is not formal, this does not mean you can just divide your mom’s assets between the siblings and call it a day. Summary administration requires that someone file a petition in court. This person can be a beneficiary or the person named as the personal representative in the will. The surviving spouse must verify the petition.
You Must File a Plan for Distributing Assets
The plan is submitted to the judge for his or her approval. You cannot ignore the will, so don’t sign up for summary administration believing that you can ignore the decedent’s wishes. If there was no will, then assets are distributed according to Florida’s intestacy laws.
There Still Might Be Creditor Claims
Remember, there are 2 ways to qualify, one of which is that the estate is relatively small ($75,000 or less). In this situation, the decedent does not need to be dead for at least 2 years. However, in this case, creditor claims are still within the statutory period, so the estate will need to pay them. Florida law requires a “diligent search” for creditor claims and requires that the estate pay those claims that are valid.
Questions about Probate? Contact Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group
Our estate planning lawyers in The Villages at Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group have helped many families through the probate process. If you have a question about formal or informal administration, give us a call. Summary administration is not appropriate for many estates, even if a loved one has been dead for more than two years. However, where appropriate, it can save families time and money.
Get the legal advice you need by contacting us for a free consultation at 800-743-9732.