Did you know that probate doesn’t look the same for every estate in Florida? State law dictates which estates need to go through formal probate and which ones may qualify for summary administration. As a simpler and often quicker option, summary administration is the preferred method for many people.
Even if you qualify for this type of estate administration, you may still want to know what this type of probate process entails.
What is Summary Administration?
Summary administration is an option in a select number of probate cases. If an estate is valued at less than $75,000 or the deceased passed away over two years ago, the estate will qualify for summary administration. Meeting one of these two requirements is generally all that is necessary to proceed with this type of probate estate. Furthermore, homestead property (i.e., your primary residence) is not included in the $75,000 threshold, which makes summary administration a good option for those estates that only have one property (and possibly a few other small assets that need to be probated).
Why is Summary Administration Preferrable?
This type of probate is mainly preferred for two reasons – time and money. Estate administration and probate are known for being time-consuming and expensive. With summary administration, many of the requirements are reduced. For example, a personal representative is not required to settle the estate, so the process can move along more quickly.
However, sometimes a personal representative (and therefore a formal probate administration) is preferred, such as when an estate has several heirs or creditor claims that have to be dealt with. If an estate wants to file a lawsuit against a third party, a formal administration will be required because a personal representative needs to be appointed to be the plaintiff in the lawsuit.
Is a Lawyer Required?
Florida does not require that a lawyer assist with a summary administration. However, just because this process is easier than formal administration doesn’t mean there are no possibilities for complications. Beneficiaries may be held liable for claims against the estate. Creditors may object. Conflicts with property can still occur between beneficiaries and heirs.
In addition, estate administration and probate procedures involve the court and legal filings. Many people don’t know when or how to:
- Notify creditors;
- Admit the will;
- Prepare and file the necessary petitions;
- Seek determination that a property is homestead property; and
- Address the requirements of a title underwriter.
If paperwork is filled out incorrectly or deadlines are missed, the time and money saved by going through summary administration may be wasted. Working with a lawyer ensures that each step of the probate process is taken care of by someone who knows the requirements, bringing you peace of mind during a time that is often difficult.
In addition to filing and documentation requirements, a Florida probate lawyer can help you with the sale of real property, handling creditor claims, and locating heirs and beneficiaries. If you’re interested in learning more about summary administration and how our attorneys can help you, contact us to schedule a free consultation. We can be reached at (305) 901-5628 or (239) 935-8599, or email us at Probate@JFRealEstateLaw.com.