My husband's mother passed in 1992. He is an only child. He was contacted regarding a bank account that she owned and he sent all the paperwork required to disburse the funds to him. The amount is less than $10,000. The state is asking that an Order of Summary Administration be filed. My question is: Can he file it with the state or must it be filed by an attorney?
Wills and Living Wills Lawyer
The answer can be found in Florida Probate Rule 5.030. The only times a Personal Representative can represent his/herself is if: (1) The Personal Representative is the only heir, or (2) The Personal Representative is a member of the State Bar. Although in some circumstances a Personal Representative may be able to represent his/herself, it is always highly recommended that a probate attorney be used. If the necessary legal documents are filed incorrectly or incorrect responses are provided to questions and issues that may arise, a fairly simple matter can easily turn to a costly and complex one.
Since it has been more than two years since your father's mother passed away, the Summary Administration procedure may be appropriate. This process does not include the appointment of a personal representative, so it could be handled without an attorney, but I would not suggest that your father attempt to do so. An attorney does more than fill out forms and take them to the courthouse. An attorney will review the circumstances and make sure the work is complete, accurate, and avoid the need to come back later and fix things. It is often more expensive to fix a problem than to get it right the first time. Although the state filing fees have gone up to $345 for assets subject to probate over $1,000 in value, I think you'll find that most Florida attorneys charge a reasonable fee for summary administration.
I would suggest that your father call an attorney in his area to discus the situation and make sure that Summary Admiinistration is the best option. It might not be.
As long as he was the only beneficiary, some probate courts will allow him to file the papers himself. In many counties in Florida, the courts require a lawyer to file the summary administration. We have seen many cases in Jacksonville, where the individuals file documents with the probate court and are asked to hire an attorney before proceeding. Much of it will depend on where your mother lived when she died.
Apple Law Firm PLLC
331 East Monroe Street
Jacksonville, FL 32202
Tel (904) 685-1200 Fax (904) 212-0678