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What Is the Difference Between Summary Administration and Formal Administration in Florida?

Deciding between summary administration and formal administration in Florida can be a difficult decision. Many factors come into play, including the value of the deceased’s estate, the type of assets that need to go through probate, the number of heirs, possible creditor issues, and whether the estate may be a party in a litigation (such as a wrongful death lawsuit or medical malpractice action). In this article, we’ll help you understand how these two types of probate administration in Florida differ from one another so that you can make an informed decision.

Overview of Probate Administration in Florida

If a deceased person leaves behind assets that have to go through the probate process, managing and distributing their estate is known as “probate administration”. Probate administration involves submitting a petition to the probate court seeking to distribute a deceased’s assets as per their will (or as per Florida law if they did not leave a will). Ultimately, once this process has been properly completed, the deceased’s assets will be distributed amongst their beneficiaries.

From simple to complex, managing an estate requires skillful navigation of an intricate and potentially lengthy process. In Florida, probate estates fall under one of two processes, Summary Administration or Formal Administration—the former typically being less costly and less extensive in terms of paperwork and timelines. 

Summary Administration

If the value of an estate is below $75,000 or if the decedent has passed away more than two years ago, summary administration can be a great way to quickly and effectively settle their affairs. Summary administration has another beneficial feature – a homestead property (i.e., an individual’s primary residence) can be of any value and as long as the rest of deceased’s assets do not exceed $75,000, the estate may be administered via summary administration. If the deceased passed away more than two years ago, summary administration is always an option. Summary administration of a probate estate is faster and less expensive as compared formal administration.

Key Characteristics of Summary Administration

The following are the key characteristics of summary administration:

Simplified Process: Summary administration is a more straightforward court process that requires fewer filings, allowing for an expedited closing out of the probate estate.

Fewer Court Hearings: Summary administration usually requires less court hearings (if any).

No Personal Representative: In a summary administration proceeding, there is no need to have a personal representative appointed, also expediting the process of closing out the estate.

No Bond Requirement: The court usually waives the bond requirement for the estate’s distribution.

No Creditor Notice Requirement: When a decedent has passed away more than two years ago or if there is only a homestead property involved, providing notice to creditors in a summary administration is typically not necessary.

Formal Administration

When the value of an estate is above $75,000 and the deceased’s date of death occurred less than two years ago, a formal probate administration is the only option. A formal probate administration is often less straightforward than a summary administration, which results in higher costs, a lengthier process, and more court filings.

Even if an estate qualifies for summary administration, formal administration may be a better option if there are a large number of heirs, possible creditor issues exist, or the estate is involved in a litigation (such as a wrongful death lawsuit or medical malpractice action).

Key Characteristics of Formal Administration

Here are the main defining aspects of formal administration:

More Complex Process: Formal administration involves a more complex process that includes more court hearings and filings.

Personal Representative: Formal administration requires the appointment of a personal representative to manage and oversee estate matters.

Bond Requirement: In order to safeguard the estate’s assets, a bond may be required.

Creditor Notice Requirement: Creditors in a formal probate administration must receive notification to allow them the chance to present claims against the estate.

Court Approval of Real Estate Sales: If you seek to sell real property prior to the probate being completed, court approval may be required.


Understanding the differences between summary and formal administration in Florida can help you determine which route is best to administer the estate of your loved one. Be sure to consult with a Florida probate attorney to ensure that the deceased’s wishes are effectively represented and carried out in accordance with state laws. 

Farshchian Law Can Help with Probate Estate Administration

Navigating the probate process in Florida can be complicated. Farshchian Law is here to help you through the probate and estate administration process, whether it’s a summary or a formal proceeding. We will walk you through each step of the way, ensuring that all legal documents are drafted and filed correctly, and that the probate estate is wrapped up as quickly as possible.

For a free consultation, please contact us at (800) 604-1871 , or email us at