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Florida Probate: Understanding Summary And Formal Administration

The probate laws in Florida can get very complicated to the average person. Our probate attorneys at The King Firm, PA, are dedicated to helping our clients in St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay, and throughout the State of Florida, understand the probate process and navigate probate proceedings efficiently and effectively. They can help you understand the difference between summary administration and formal administration in Florida’s probate court, as well as determine the best course of action given the fact’s of your case.

Probate Courts And Estate Administration

Probate is the process whereby a Judge oversees a deceased person’s estate, which includes making sure that creditors are paid, and that each heir get’s what is due to them.  Probate does not happen automatically.  Probate occurs when an interested party, typically an heir, or nominated personal representative, files a petition with the Probate Court.  A common misconception people have is the belief that having a Last Will and Testament will avoid probate.  Avoidance of probate can only be achieved by ensuring that all of a person’s assets have established paid on death beneficiaries, joint owners, or are owned in Trust.  If any asset is in the name of the decedent, with no joint owner, and no paid on death beneficiary established on the account, it will require probate, even if the person has a Last Will and Testament.  Additionally, if a person dies without a will, the probate court will make sure that the person’s estate is distributed according to Florida’s intestate laws.

What Is Summary Administration?

Summary Administration is a type of probate proceeding wherein the estate is resolved by an Order of Summary Administration that directs the distribution of particular assets from the institutions that hold them, directly to the intended beneficiaries.  In this type of proceeding there is no personal representative appointed because the Judge simply orders the distribution and the order is delivered to the bank, or other institution, and then the assets are delivered directly to the heirs.  Not all estates can be handled by means of Summary Administration.  To qualify for Summary Administration, the decedent had to have been deceased for more than two years, or the non-exempt assets of the estate must be valued at less than $75,000, and meet other qualifying criteria.  Summary Administration proceedings are often completed in as little as one month, but can sometimes take longer depending on factors such as creditor claims.

Nonexempt assets are not protected from creditors. Summary administration might be a good option if there are little or no creditors or the estate’s assets are exempt, like automobiles or a homestead property. A summary administration can pass through probate in as little as one month, and it is less expensive than a formal administration.

What Is A Formal Administration?

Formal Administration is a type of probate proceeding wherein a personal representative is appointed to administrate the estate.  A personal representative is granted authority to speak with banks, handle any pending litigation and any other issues with the estate, including collecting and closing accounts, paying bills and ultimately distributing assets to the heirs.  In Florida formal administration typically takes 4 to 12 months to complete, with some estates continuing longer as a result of disputes and or litigation.

An experienced probate lawyer will be an invaluable resource in terms of efficiently handling all aspects of the probate process, saving time and money.

Consult A Florida Probate Lawyer

To schedule a consultation with an experienced probate attorney, contact our offices by calling 888-712-4771 or by sending an inquiry through our website. We look forward to answering your questions and telling you more about how we can help you navigate the Florida probate court system.