The Siegel Law Firm, P.A. helps clients navigate the probate administration through the courts. Simply put, probate is a court process in which a Decedent's assets are transferred to beneficiaries named in the Decedent's Last Will and Testament. If the Decedent died without a Last Will and Testament the Decedent's assets will be distributed according to Florida law as set forth in Section 732 of the Florida Statutes. (Florida Intestate Statute)

Florida has three main types of probate; (1) Formal Administration, (2) Disposition without Administration, and (3) Summary Administration.

Formal Administration 

If you find yourself in a position where the Decedent's probate assets don't qualify for the two below mentioned, simplified probate administrations then you will likely have to file a Formal Probate Administration. While it is true Formal Administration is more time consuming than Summary Administration and Disposition without Administration we can help guide you through the process with our firm's extensive experience in the field. The first step in a Formal Administration is determining who will be named as Personal Representative ("PR"). If the Decedent had a Last Will and Testament, then the Will should nominate a PR to administer the estate. If there is no Last Will and Testament, then the laws of the State of Florida guide the court in naming the Personal Representative. (See Florida Statute 733.301

In Formal Administration, the attorney, on behalf of the individual petitioning to be named as PR, will prepare a Petition to Open an Estate and name a Personal Representative. The person to be named as PR will have to meet certain required criteria and will sign an Oath to the Court ensuring that they will carry out their role as PR as required under Florida law. After the Court appoints the PR, the PR, under the guidance of his/her attorney, will have to follow the necessary steps and meet the legal deadlines to administer the estate, including but not limited to, accounting to the beneficiaries and addressing any of the Decedent's creditors. After the process is complete, which typically takes around 6-9 months, the PR can distribute the probate assets, move to be discharged as PR, and close out the Estate.

Disposition Without Administration 

This type of probate is an excellent, simplified probate process where the Decedent dies with minimal assets that have to pass through the probate process. In order to qualify for disposition without administration, Florida law imposes several limitations including that no real property may pass through this process. A Decedent's estate will qualify if the Decedent's non-exempt personal property does not exceed "the sum of the amount of preferred funeral expenses and reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses of the last 60 days of the last illness. (See Florida Statute 735.301). If you think the Decedent's estate may qualify for this type of probate you can often complete this probate without the assistance of an attorney. Of course, do not hesitate to reach out to our firm with any questions regarding qualifying for this type of simplified probate.  

Summary Administration 

If the Decedent's estate does not qualify for Disposition Without Administration, the estate may qualify for a different simplified probate administration called Summary Administration. In order to qualify for Summary Administration, the Decedent's non-exempt probate assets must be less than $75,000 or the Decedent must have died more than 2 years prior to the commencement of the probate. Note that an example of an exempt asset is the Decedent's vehicle and the Decedent's homestead real property. The laws pertaining to a Summary Administration can be found in Florida Statute 735.201. (See Florida Statute 735.201). The biggest advantage of a Summary Administration over a Formal Administration is the time and costs associated with this simplified probate administration. A Summary Administration typically takes around 1-2 months compared to a Formal Administration that typically last around 6-9 months. 

If you have any questions about Florida probate law and the different types of probate administration do not hesitate to reach out to us today at (561) 743-4001.

And if you are interested in learning more about Probate, please listen to our newest Podcast series, "The Probate Pod" where we discuss probate and estate planning in Florida.

What Happens if you Die without a Will (featuring stories about James Dean and Bob Marley)

How to Avoid Probate on your Home in Florida

How Long Does Probate take in Florida