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Summary Administration > Summary Administration

Florida Summary Administration

Not every Florida probate case is treated the same under Florida probate law. The Florida Legislature has recognized that some estates do not need to go through the formal probate process – these estates are allowed to proceed under Florida probate law as a Florida summary administration.

What is a Florida Summary Administration?

In Florida, the Summary Administration procedure is used in a limited number of circumstances, including for (1) for smaller estates or (2) for those estates where the decedent has been dead for more than 2 years.

A Summary Administration of Florida assets is available to a resident or non-resident decedent’s estate under the following circumstances:

  • Under $75,000. The value of the decedent’s entire estate is under $75,000, less property which is exempt from the claims of creditors such as homestead, and if there are no creditors or the creditors do not object; or
  • 2 Years. The decedent has been dead for more than two years, regardless of the size of the estate.

Learn more about the law related to Florida summary administrations.

Why Have a Summary Administration for Florida Assets?

The reason why many heirs choose to go through a summary probate administration here in Florida is that it can save everyone a lot of time and money.

How? A summary administration is quicker and less expensive than a formal administration. For example, summary administration does not require the appointment of a personal representative (any interested person may petition the court for a summary administration just like in a formal administration).

Also, you don’t need a lawyer to file a summary administration (see below).

If the legal requirements are met for a summary administration, a county probate judge can move the matter along very fast.

In some Florida summary administrations, the Order of Summary Administration can be signed by a county probate judge and the matter closed in a matter of weeks, not months or years like in a formal probate administration.

What Are The Negatives to a Florida Summary Probate Administration?

The downside to summary administration of a Florida estate is that the beneficiaries of the estate can remain liable to claims against the decedent for up to two years after the decedent’s death, unless a Notice to Creditors is published in a local newspaper or served upon each creditor.

Two years is a long time to be in limbo as an estate beneficiary.  It is important that the party petitioning for a summary administration investigates to determine all of the possible creditors of the decedent.

Another complication: summary administrations and homestead real estate.

Some probate judges will issue an Order that determines the real estate to be the homestead of the decedent very quickly and without the need of hearing; other probate judges may take months to hold a hearing and issue a ruling that the real estate was the decedent’s homestead.

Read more about Problems With Summary Administrations.

Do you need a lawyer for a Florida summary administration?

Florida law does not require the person who requests a summary administration of a Florida estate to have a lawyer. The interested person can go down to the courthouse and file the request for the summary administration without any attorney.

However, although attorney representation is not required for a Florida summary administration, hiring an attorney may be necessary in order to know the correct documents to file related to the creditor and homestead process.

Also, the petition for summary administration has to be filed in the correct county (the county where the real estate is located) and it must contain the necessary information (like a complete legal description) to satisfy a title underwriter (in the event the property is later sold).

If there is homestead property, formal notice on interested parties and a hearing in front of a Judge may be required. Sometimes it may take a while to get an order determining homestead in a summary administration, which can delay the sale of the home and the disbursement of the sale proceeds to the beneficiaries.

Experienced Florida Probate Lawyer Representing Clients With Summary Administrations

Florida probate attorney Larry Tolchinsky has been assisting clients with the probate process for more than 23 years, including family members living outside the State of Florida.

What Are The Steps of a Florida Summary Administration?

The actual steps in a Florida Summary Probate Administration are as follows:

  • File the Petition and Pay the Filing Fee. A Petition for Summary Administration must be filed with the Clerk of Court (The filing fee is $236.00 if the assets are valued at less than $1,000 – otherwise the filing fee is $346.00) and a Petition for Summary Administration may be filed at any stage of the administration of the estate if it appears that at the time of filing the estate would qualify;
  • Admit the Will. The Will, if any, must be deposited with the probate clerk (unless an administration occurred in a different state in which case an authenticated copy of the will is sufficient to deposit with the clerk);
  • Find the Creditors, Give Them Notice, Get Them Paid. Before the Court enters an Order of Summary Administration, a diligent search and a reasonable inquiry should be made for any known or reasonably ascertainable creditors and a copy of the petition must be served on those creditors, and a provision must be made for payment to those creditors to the extent that assets are available;
  • Get Order Signed By Judge Approving Distribution. The court may enter an Order of Summary Administration allowing immediate distribution of the assets to the beneficiaries.

Florida Real Estate Title Concern: A summary administration can be difficult especially when dealing with homestead property title issues. There are numerous issues that can arise, including foreclosure issues.

How Can a Florida Probate Lawyer Help?

Having a knowledgeable probate attorney to explain your legal options can be very important in some cases (especially for issues related to medicaid liens, credit card balances, homestead property, car leases payments, and other common creditor claims).

In addition to Summary Administrations, Larry represents clients in probate matters related to:

Larry Tolchinsky is committed to providing his clients with comprehensive legal advice, as well as acting in an efficient and orderly manner in the execution of such matters—from filing of the initial petition to the final distribution of assets. Larry handles Broward County Probate matters for clients located in Hallandale Beach, Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale, Miramar, Pembroke Pines, Weston, Davie, Dania Beach and all other cities in Dade and Broward County and all other cities throughout Florida.

Larry Publishes a Blog To Share What He Knows About Florida Probate Law

If you would like information about the Florida Probate Process, including a summary administration, please feel free to read Larry’s posts about common probate matters as well as news about Florida will and estate concerns on the blog, About Florida Probate. It addresses some of the most frequently asked questions about the Florida probate process as well as issues surrounding Florida real estate matters (often the two areas overlap when will and trust issues are involved).

To learn more about Larry click here: Probate Lawyer

Contact an Experienced Fort Lauderdale Probate Attorney

If you live in Fort Lauderdale, or have loved ones who have died in Fort Lauderdale, and are looking for an experienced Florida probate lawyer to assist you, call Larry Tolchinsky today at 954-522-0207 for a free initial consultation or feel free to email him through this website.

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