Frequently Asked Questions About Summary Administration in Florida
Florida probate is the process by which property is transferred from a deceased individual (the decedent) to his or her beneficiaries. A formal probate administration can take several months–even years–depending on the complexity of the decedent’s estate. However, in some cases Florida law provides for a simplified probate process known as summary administration. Here are some answers to common questions we get regarding summary administration.
What Is Summary Administration?
Summary administration is a special kind of probate that skips many of the steps associated with formal administration. Ideally, a summary administration can be completed in just a few weeks. And in many cases there is no real “administration” necessary–a judge simply signs an order transferring the decedent’s property to the heirs or beneficiaries.
What Estates Are Eligible for Summary Administration?
Chapter 735 of the Florida Statutes spells out the terms and conditions of the summary administration process. Only estates meeting the following criteria are eligible:
- If the decedent had a will, there is no language in it requiring formal administration.
- The value of the entire estate subject to Florida administration is less than $75,000, less the value of any property exempt from creditor claims.
- In the alternative, the estate is that of a person who died more than two years prior to the filing of the petition for summary administration.
Can the Estate of a Non-Resident Apply for Summary Administration?
Yes, but there is an important qualification. For non-residents, the $75,000 threshold only applies to assets physically located in Florida, such as real property. But estates of deceased Florida residents must account for all property regardless of its location.
What Assets Are Excluded From the $75,000 Threshold?
Anything that is not considered a “probate asset” does not count towards the limit. This includes but is not necessarily limited to:
- Assets held with someone else as a “joint tenant with right of survivorship,” such as a home co-owned by a married couple;
- Assets with a beneficiary designation of “payable on death” or “transfer on death,” which is common with retirement accounts and life insurance policies; and
- Assets that were previously transferred to a trust.
Will the Court Appoint a Personal Representative for an Estate Under Summary Administration?
No. In summary administration there is no need for a personal representative, since the estate is distributed immediately to the beneficiaries. This means that summary administration is not appropriate for estates where some degree of administration may be necessary, such as selling assets to pay off creditor claims.
How Are Creditor Claims Handled in Summary Administration?
In summary administration cases where the decedent passed away more than two years ago, creditor claims are legally barred and therefore not an issue. In all other cases, the person who petitions the court for summary administration must “make a diligent search and reasonable inquiry,” notify them of the proceedings and make arrangements to pay any valid debts with the available estate assets.
Do You Have Further Questions About Florida Probate?
Summary administration may be a simplified process, but it can still seem quite complicated if you do not have experience in this area. A qualified Fort Myers probate attorney can assist you in determining whether summary administration is appropriate for your loved one’s estate. Call the Kuhn Law Firm, P.A., at 239-333-4529 to schedule a free consultation today.