In Florida, the probate process can be complex and time-consuming, which is why many individuals turn to summary probate administration to speed up the process.
Here, we will discuss the different aspects of summary probate administration, such as the qualifications required to be eligible, the timeline and costs, other relevant issues, and why you should hire a Farshchian Law attorney for your summary administration needs.
From start to finish, we’ll help you navigate the process and make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible. Our expert support and guidance will include the following services:
- Gathering estate assets
- Identifying which estate assets must go through the probate process
- Preparing the Petition for Summary Administration
- Drafting the Petition for Homestead Determination
- Providing the proper notices to the estate’s beneficiaries
- Preparing the Affidavit of Heirs and other court-required documents
- Filing the death certificate and will
- Preparing disclaimers of interest in the property
- Distributing all assets to beneficiaries
- Facilitating the transfer of title once probate is complete
- Assisting in the sale of probate property
Introduction to Summary Probate Administration in Florida
Summary administration is a simplified form of probate that is available in Florida for small estates. It is designed to be a faster and less expensive way to transfer assets to beneficiaries after the death of a loved one.
This option is usually only available if the estate’s value (minus exempt property) is below $75,000 or if the deceased passed away more than two years prior to the date that the probate process is started.
It’s important to note that those who receive assets through the summary probate process may still be held responsible for handling the deceased’s unsecured creditor claims (such as credit card bills or medical expenses) for up to two years after their passing. A Notice to Creditors is filed in a newspaper of general circulation to reduce this creditor claims period from two years to 90 days.
Qualifications for Summary Probate in Florida
If you’re wondering whether an estate qualifies for summary administration, there are a few things that you should take note of.
If the deceased’s will says that a formal probate administration is required under Chapter 733 of the Florida Statutes, then summary administration won’t be an option.
However, if the will doesn’t say anything about the type of administration required, and the estate’s value (minus exempt property) is below $75,000 or if the deceased passed away more than two years ago, then summary probate administration may be a viable option.
If a deceased passed away less than two years ago, summary administration may still be an option if the total value of the estate (excluding exempt property) is less than $75,000.
Exempt properties are those that most creditors can’t touch, no matter how much they are worth. This is why they are not included in the $75,000 threshold for summary probate administration.
What types of properties are exempt? Well, first off, the primary residence of the person who died, also known as their homestead property, is protected from most creditor claims and is not considered part of the $75,000 maximum limit for summary administration. Therefore, an individual may leave behind a primary residence worth any amount and still be able to qualify for summary administration.
Additionally, household furniture, appliances, and furnishings in the said person’s usual place of abode, with a net value of up to $20,000 at the time of death, are also exempt.
If the deceased had motor vehicles that were regularly used by them or their immediate family, and each vehicle weighed less than 15,000 pounds, then these vehicles are also protected from creditors’ claims (with the maximum being two vehicles).
Finally, all qualified 529 college tuition programs, including the Florida Prepaid College Trust Fund advance payment contracts and participation agreements, are protected, as well as death benefits paid to teachers and school administrators.
Benefits of Summary Probate Administration
In choosing which type of probate best suits your needs and circumstances, there are definitely a few factors that you need to consider. However, most, if not all, of our clients have two main considerations: costs and time.
One of the main benefits of summary probate administration is that it is a much faster process than regular probate since it can be completed in as little as a few weeks, while a regular probate (called a formal probate administration) can take several months or even years to complete.
Here, there’s no need for the court to appoint a personal representative. Anyone who is a beneficiary or was nominated by the person who died can request that the court distribute the assets directly to those who are entitled to them under the will.
However, the surviving spouse must sign and verify the petition to open the estate. And if there’s no valid will, Florida’s laws of intestate succession will determine how the assets will be distributed.
Probate costs in Florida can be a bit tricky to pin down as they are influenced by a variety of factors. These include the size and complexity of the estate, attorney fees, accounting fees, court filing fees, executor bond fees, appraisals, business valuations, estate sales preparation, publications or notices fees, and certified postage.
Attorney fees are typically one of the larger expenses, and the average cost of hiring a lawyer for probate varies depending on the size of the estate and whether it is contested or not.
With summary probate administration, another benefit is that it is less expensive than a formal probate. This is because there are fewer court appearances and less paperwork involved, and it can significantly unburden families who are already dealing with the loss of a loved one.
Some attorneys, including the ones at Farshchian Law, P.A., offer a flat fee structure for summary probate administrations. Many clients prefer this since they know exactly what to expect to pay for from the beginning.
Contact Farshchian Law Today
To take advantage of the shorter form of probate, it’s important to work with an experienced Florida probate law firm that can guide you through the process and ensure everything is handled correctly.
When it comes to summary administration, we handle all the necessary documents with the utmost care and precision, including the drafting of the petition for homestead determination, affidavits of heirs, affidavit of no estate tax due, among other required documents.
Once the summary administration process is complete, the court will issue an Order of Summary Administration, giving the green light to distribute assets to the rightful beneficiaries. Rest assured that we’ve got you covered every step of the way!
To schedule a free consultation, call us at (305) 901-5628 or (239) 935-8599, or email us at Probate@JFRealEstateLaw.com. We cover probate proceedings throughout the entire State of Florida.