The Florida Probate Administration Process
When a person dies without a will or if the will is invalid for any reason, their estate would typically be administered through the Florida probate administration process. This process can be formal or summary, depending on the nature of the estate.
Summary Probate AdministrationSummary administration is pretty fast especially when compared to the formal administration process. It is sometimes regarded as a *shortcut*. It is not open to all estates though.
Under the Florida Probate Code, the summary process is only available if:
- The deceased*s death occurred more than two years before probate; or
- The value of the probate estate, excluding non-probate assets, is not more than $75,000.
This summary process can be started by the personal representative of the estate or anyone who is to inherit property from the estate. The process would usually be started by filing a Petition for Summary Administration. This petition must state that the estate qualifies for summary administration and it should also list all the assets and beneficiaries of the assets.
All named beneficiaries must sign the petition or must be given notice of it. This is to avoid any conflicts afterwards. If there are no issues, the court would usually grant an order releasing all listed property to its proper beneficiaries.
Formal probate administrationAny estate that does not meet the requirements for summary administration has to go through the formal administration process. The formal probate process is started when the court appoints a personal representative of the estate.
Under the Florida Probate Code, the duties of a personal representative are set out exhaustively. These duties include:
- Taking inventory of all assets of the estate
- Paying off all debts owed under the estate
- Distributing the remaining assets
Any person that believes they are owed money by the deceased*s estate must be given time to come forward and make a claim. The personal representative of the estate must address these claims. Once all the claims are addressed, the personal representative is expected to provide a final report to the court, showing how the assets of the estate are to be distributed.
The entire formal administration process can take between a few months to several years, depending on the size of the estate.
Disposition without administrationSometimes, an estate can avoid probate administration totally. This can especially occur where the deceased left behind very little assets. In this instance, the remains of the estate can be used to pay back expenses such as funeral expenses.