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Formal and Summary Probate In Florida


When a person passes on, their estate is subject to probate if they have any assets in their name that do not automatically pass to someone else. There are two different ways that an estate can go through probate in Florida – summary administration and formal probate. The estate of your deceased loved one may qualify for both, but just because one may qualify for the less time-consuming option does not necessarily mean that it is the best choice for your family. Understanding the differences between the two probate methods is important, so that your family can make certain to choose the best path for you.

Summary Administration For Smaller Estates

The major factors that make a difference in which type of probate is the best for your loved one’s estate are the size of the estate, and the method in which certain assets are owned. Generally, summary administration is best for small estates that are worth less than $75,000, or when the person has been deceased for more than 2 years, while formal administration is recommended for all other types of estates, and also for summary estates that might otherwise require a personal representative (normally, no personal representative is appointed for a summary administration because in theory, they will not be necessary).

Summary administration is well suited for situations when there are few or no debts to pay; it is essentially a procedure for granting assets directly to heirs. If only the decedent’s homestead or other personal property needs to be transferred, summary administration is a good fit. However, it is worth keeping in mind that if acting on behalf of the estate does become necessary, such as if more information on one of the decedent’s assets is needed, it will be very difficult for the person administering the estate, because they are not the personal representative and lack that authority under the law.

Formal Administration For Everyone Else

If your loved one’s estate was valued at more than $75,000, or it has been less than two years since their passing (or both), it is only eligible for what is called formal probate. Formal probate is what most people think of when they discuss the probate process, complete with the appointment of a personal representative and all the authority that title carries. If assets have to be tracked down, or if it is necessary to defend the estate against suit or other claims, you will then have the power to do that, where in a summary administration, you would not.

A formal administration is particularly complex, and it is generally recommended that a layperson gets an attorney to assist them with its little details, especially if they are tapped to serve as personal representative (in Florida, any adult Florida resident who can manage their own affairs may be nominated). It can drag on longer than a summary administration (some cases can last up to a year), but often this is simply because there are more assets to disburse. It tends to require a lot more work than a summary administration, but with an attorney on your side, it can be a bit less cumbersome and intimidating.

A Florida Estate Planning Attorney Can Help Answer Your Questions

In these uncertain times, it is so important to have a plan for yourself and your affairs. If you have any questions or concerns about how best to structure your assets to give your heirs an easier probate process, consulting a dedicated attorney is the first step. Our Naples estate planning attorneys at the Nici Law Firm know the ins and outs of probate law and work hard to protect your interests. Call our offices today at (239) 449-6150 or get in touch with us online to set up a free consultation.


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