The process of probate in Florida can be complex and time consuming. The good news is that Florida has a streamlined option that can significantly simplify the process: Summary Administration. This alternative to formal probate is perfect for situations where the estate’s assets and debts are relatively straightforward and qualify under Florida law. In this article, we will discuss Summary Administration in Florida, the easy steps to follow, and the relevant Florida Statutes that govern it.
Understanding Summary Administration:
Summary Administration is a probate process in Florida specifically tailored for estates with assets valued at $75,000 or less or those where the deceased passed away more than two years ago. If the deceased died more than two years ago the asset amount will not prevent the use of this procedure. Summary Administration aims to expedite the distribution of the estate’s assets to the beneficiaries by avoiding the more time-consuming formal probate process. Note that, even when the deceased’s estate qualifies for Summary Administration, there are still times when a Formal Administration probate may be more appropriate.
Florida Probate Law on Summary Administration:
The Florida Statutes that provide the legal framework for Summary Administration can be found in Chapter 735, Part II. Specifically, Florida Statutes § 735.201-735.2063 detail the provisions and requirements governing this simplified probate process.
Steps for Summary Administration in Florida:
- Does the Estate Qualify for Summary Administration:
The first step in Summary Administration is to determine if the estate qualifies for this streamlined probate process. You must establish that the estate’s assets are valued at $75,000 or less, or if the decedent passed away more than two years ago, regardless of the estate’s size. If either criterion is met, Summary Administration is an option. It is also important to consider if the decedent had known creditors as this needs to be considered prior to the filing of a Summary Administration in Florida.
- Prepare the Petition:
To begin Summary Administration, your attorney should prepare a Petition for Summary Administration to be filed in the jurisdiction where the Decedent died. This pleading outlines the details of the estate, such as asset values, debts, and the beneficiaries. The Court will require that specific information be contained on the Petition. The failure to allege the correct information will likely result in a denial of the Summary Administration and having to resubmit the pleadings.
- File the Petition:
Once the Petition is ready, it should be filed with the appropriate Florida probate court. Your attorney will need to pay a filing fee, so ensure that all the necessary documentation is complete and accurate. The court will then review the Petition along with supporting documents that need to be filed along with the Petition.
- Serve Notice to Interested Parties:
It’s important to notify all interested parties of the Summary Administration proceedings. This includes beneficiaries, creditors, and any other parties with a legitimate interest in the probate estate. Formal Notice is typically served by certified mail on the interested parties.
- Obtain the Court Order:
After the court reviews the Petition and considers any objections from interested parties, a judge will issue an Order of Summary Administration if all requirements are met. This order authorizes the distribution of assets to the beneficiaries without the need for a formal probate process. It is then important to obtain a certified copy of the Orders as many financial institutions will require the same to distribute the decedent’s assets to the beneficiaries.
- Distribute the Assets:
Once you have the Orders from the Court, you can then proceed to distribute the estate’s assets to the designated beneficiaries. It’s important to ensure that this distribution adheres to the terms of the court order.
Summary Administration in Florida provides a simplified and efficient way to handle estates with modest assets or decedent’s who have passed away more than two years ago. By following these easy steps and adhering to the relevant Florida Statutes, you can expedite the probate process and ensure a smoother transition of assets to the beneficiaries. Please always consider consulting with a qualified attorney for guidance through the legal process of Summary Administration and to make sure you meet all the statutory requirements. Please contact Jason Siegel, Esq. anytime if you have questions.