Estate Planning 101: Understanding the Florida Probate Process

Much like other legal processes, each state governs and adjusts their procedures accordingly. Florida probate is no different. In fact, Florida recently implemented a ”summary administration” process that allows residents to streamline the probate process, thus making it less time-consuming, and less stressful than ever before.

Who Benefits From Summary Administration?

Under Florida probate laws, an estate can qualify for summary administration under either of the following two circumstances:

1. The decedent’s estate value is $75,000 or less. This figure does not include the value of their home, as primary residences are protected from this number. For example, if the decedent passes away with $60,000 in the bank and owns a $200,000 primary residence, his/her heirs may still utilize Florida summary administration.

2. Estates may also fall under summary administration qualification if the decedent passed away more than two years ago. Under this circumstance, their asset amounts are irrelevant and can still qualify for summary administration.

How Long is the Summary Administration Process?

The Florida summary administration process starts when someone, usually an heir, files a Petition for Summary Administration in probate court. If there is a surviving spouse, they are required to sign off on the petition and verify its validity. All beneficiaries named in the Will can expect to be served with a notice that the petition has been filed, though they are not required to act on or sign off on anything.

From there, the Florida probate court reviews the petition, and, upon acceptance, releases the decedent’s assets to the named beneficiaries. In this process, there is no need for an executor and may be completed in as little as a week for smaller estates.

Why Wouldn’t Everyone Take Advantage of Florida’s Summary Administration?

Though Florida has made the summary administration process affordable and efficient, there are some circumstances where it is not fitting for a situation. Circumstances under which you should NOT pursue a summary administration are:

    • When named heirs can’t be found
    • If a Will contest is likely
    • If the estate has creditors
    • It is insolvent
    • The estate doesn’t have the assets available to pay named creditors

Contact Us

As with any Florida estate dispute situation, even those that seem cut and dry, it is in your best interest to contact a knowledgeable estate law attorney. Luis Barreto & Associates are experienced in Florida estate law and estate litigation and can assist with any of your legal needs. Call us today for a free, confidential consultation at (305) 358-1771.

Written by Luis E. Barreto

Luis E. Barreto

Luis is a probate and guardianship litigator with over 23 years of experience in the field. Determination of heirs, will contests, breaches of fiduciary duty, removal of personal representatives, guardians and trustees are just some of the types of litigation he addresses. In addition, he administers non-contested estates and guardianships.