The 4 Types of Probate Administrations / Proceedings in Florida
Florida law allows for four distinct types of probate administrations. Factors include the size of the estate (that is, the value of the assets to be distributed, not including life insurance with a beneficiary and some other things), and how long the person has been deceased, among others.
Formal AdministrationA formal administration must be done when the decedent has assets of more than $75,000 (including their share of non-Homestead real estate, in Florida or elsewhere) and he or she passed away less than two years earlier. Determining probated assets is not as straightforward as it seems: jointly owned real estate, a shared bank account, assets in a living trust controlled by the decedent, and life insurance with a named beneficiary are all not part of a probated estate. The court closely supervises a formal administration over the collection and distribution of assets, which sometimes involves the attorney going to court (even if the will is not contested). Formal administrations typically take quite a few months from the time the estate is "opened" to when it is "closed," and it can take even longer if the matter is complex.
Summary AdministrationSummary administration is a shortened form of probate. It applies only if the decedent has been dead for more than two years or if the total value of the decedent's property (excluding exempt assets) does not exceed $75,000. With a summary administration, the initial papers filed with the court detail the estate assets and their value, along with a plan for distributing the assets to the beneficiaries. This is typically a faster and less expensive form of probate for estates that qualify.
Ancillary AdministrationOut-of-state residents who own real estate in Florida need to probate their Florida property with an ancillary administration. Because the primary probate happens in the state where they lived, this is an additional probate only for their Florida property, and is often done without the beneficiaries needing to come to the state. Ancillary Administrations can be formal or summary, depending on the size of the property and other factors.
Disposition Without AdministrationThis is a legal procedure for disposing of a deceased person's assets without any official probate. Because it is available only in very limited circumstances for tiny estates, it is not used very often.