Probate is the process of authenticating a Will and administering a person’s estate. It is also the process of administering someone’s estate who does not have a Will (intestate). Probate can be highly complex or straightforward and simple. It depends on the decedent’s estate and other factors. Our Florida estate administration attorney discusses the requirements for simplified estate administration in this blog for anyone interested in simplifying estate administration in Florida.
What Is the Probate Process in Florida?
Florida probate laws provide two probate processes. A formal probate administration is the standard procedure for estates with more than $75,000 of probate assets. It can take up to nine months to complete a formal probate and much longer for contested or complex probate estates.
Small estates under $75,000 in non-exempt probate property might be eligible for summary probate. Summary probate is a faster, less costly, and simpler probate procedure. Sometimes, larger estates might qualify for summary administration if the person died at least two years ago.
What Is Involved in the Probate Process for Small Estates to Simplify Estate Administration?
Florida Probate Code §735.201 allows summary administration if the deceased person has been dead for over two years or the probate assets are worth less than $75,000. When a person has been dead for more than two years, summary administration has no monetary limit.
The process for summary administration in Florida includes the following steps:
- File a Petition for Summary Administration. The petition must include information about the deceased’s assets and debts. It must also include a list of heirs and other interested parties.
- The petitioner must notify all interested parties of the petition by mailing them a notice. Creditors must also receive notice and have three months to file claims. However, notifying creditors is unnecessary if the person has been deceased for over two years.
- Obtain court approval. The court reviews the petition and ensures that all heirs and interested parties have been notified. The court does not count exempt property against the $75,000 cap for summary administration. Example property includes the person’s home, two motor vehicles, and personal property in the home up to $20,000.
- Pays debts and distributes assets according to the person’s Will or intestate succession.
The personal representative, if one is appointed, or the person petitioning for the summary administration files a final accounting with the court after paying bills and disbursing assets. The court reviews the final accounting and issues an order closing the estate.
While a summary administration is a simplified way to administer an eligible estate, it is not a good option in all circumstances. If there are more debts than assets, the heirs do not get along, or there could be missing assets or heirs, you should talk with a probate lawyer before proceeding with a small estate in Florida.
Schedule a Free Consultation With a Florida Estate Planning Attorney
There are things you can do with your estate plan to simply estate administration for your loved ones. Our lawyers can help you develop an estate plan that meets your goals and needs. We can also help you with an existing estate and the probate process. Contact us to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Florida estate planning attorney.