Florida has two basic forms for probate estates — full administration and summary administration. Many probate estates are subject to full administration, which can be costly and time-consuming. However, some estates may qualify for summary administration.
With summary administration, a person's estate may be fully administered without all the necessary documents and steps required for full probate administration. However, the estate must meet one of two specific requirements to be eligible for a summary administration. In addition, the summary administration may not be the best option even if an estate qualifies for this streamlined probate process in Florida.
If your loved one has passed away, contact The Law Offices of Justin McMurray, P.A. by calling (352) 450-1367 or by using the contact form above to request a free consultation with our Gainesville probate attorney.
What are the Qualifications for a Florida Summary Probate Administration?
To qualify for summary probate administration, the estate must meet one of two requirements. For a small estate, the value of the property subject to the probate estate must be less than $75,000. When an estate does not have high-value assets, a summary administration can save the heirs time and money. Instead of waiting months to receive ownership of the estate property, the heirs may receive the property in just a few days or weeks.
The second situation that can make an estate eligible for summary administration is the date of death for the decedent. If a person has been dead for two years or more, the estate may qualify for summary probate administration regardless of the value of the assets. Therefore, even though the gross value of the estate may be $500,000, if the person has been dead for longer than two years, the estate may still be handled through a summary administration.
If you believe your loved one's estate qualifies for summary administration, you should consult with our Gainesville probate attorney to discuss filing a petition requesting an Order of Summary Administration. It is crucial that the petition you file with the court contain all information necessary for the court to determine if the estate meets the required elements for a summary administration.
Because there could be situations in which a summary administration is not the best option for handling an estate, even though the estate qualifies for the streamlined probate process, you want to work closely with an experienced Florida probate attorney instead of attempting to file a petition without an attorney.
The Process for Summary Probate Administration in Florida
If you choose to file a petition for summary administration, the court reviews the information contained in the petition to decide if the estate meets one of the two qualifications. After reviewing your petition, the probate judge will either grant or deny your request for summary administration. If your petition is granted, the court issues an order approving the proposed distribution of assets. The assets may then be transferred to the heirs without further delay. In many cases, a summary administration may be approved in a few days.
However, one problem that is common with these types of probate estates is the payment of debts. When a petitioner files for summary probate administration, the petitioner must certify that the debts of the decedent have been paid or arrangements have been made to pay the decedent's debts. The petitioner is held personally liable for any legal debts of the probate estate that have not been paid. However, the petitioner can only be held liable for debts up to the amount of assets distributed to the petitioner from the probate estate.
Can There Be Reasons Why You Would Not Want to File for Summary Administration?
Yes, there could be instances in which full administration could be more beneficial even though an estate may qualify for summary administration. For example, if a small estate qualifies for summary administration, the estate assets are subject to creditor's claims for up to two years from the date of the decedent's death. Therefore, if you are worried about claims by creditors, you may want to consider full administration. Another issue that could impact summary probate administration is Florida's homestead law for primary residences. You may need to request an order determining homestead with the order granting summary administration.
Contact a Gainesville Probate Attorney for More Information
Our Gainesville probate attorney can help you determine if your family member's estate qualifies for summary probate administration and if that is the best course of action to protect yourself and the estate property. Before you proceed with any action in probate court, we encourage you to take advantage of our free consultation to learn about your options and legal rights regarding the probate estate.
Call The Law Offices of Justin McMurray, P.A. at (352) 450-1367 for help with all your probate and estate matters.