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Is there a difference between summary and formal administration?

If an individual living in Florida dies without owning any property or other asset in their name alone, it may be possible to avoid going through the probate process. However, if that person did indeed own property or other assets in their name alone, then their estate must go through probate. But many Florida residents may not know that an estate may qualify to go through the probate process in one of two ways. But what are these ways and how are they different?

The first method is known as summary administration and this method can only be used if the estate meets very strict qualifications. One of these is that the estate's assets must be worth less than $75,000. Another is that the testator must have died more than two years before the beginning of the probate process. The summary administration process can be requested by filing a petition with a court. The petition asks the court to allow distribution of the testator's assets to their rightful heirs either according to their will or according to Florida law.

If the testator's estate cannot go through summary administration, then it needs to go through formal administration. This process does not distribute any assets to their beneficiaries until all administrative costs and creditor claims have been satisfied. It is important to remember that, in formal administration, the estate can be testate, meaning that there is a will, or intestate, meaning there is no will. Just like a summary administration, the formal administration process begins by filing a petition with the court. This petition also asks the court to appoint a personal representative to handle the affairs of the estate.

Depending on the estate, the probate process can become convoluted. However, any Florida resident who wants to know more about the process may want to speak to an estate planning attorney in order to determine how probate could affect their assets.

Source: statelaws.findlaws.com, "Florida estate procedures", Accessed Dec. 14, 2015

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