There are two types of administration that fall under the Florida probate administration umbrella – summary probate administration and formal probate administration. Today we’re going to talk a little bit about each of these including when they’re used and what they mean.

Florida Probate Administration: Summary Vs. Formal Administration

What is Probate Administration?

Probate administration is the process of managing and distributing the estate of someone after they have passed away. Probate can be a particularly complicated process which is why it’s recommended that you always have a probate attorney on your side to take care of the nitty-gritty details.

Two Types of Probate Administration

There are two types of probate administration, summary, and formal administration. The size of an estate and how estate assets are owned and designated in the last will and testament are what determine which type of administration is right for each situation.

Summary Probate Administration

Summary probate administration is titled “small estates” because it is the type of probate that is used for small estates. There are two subsections of summary probate – summary administration and distribution of personal property without administration.

Summary Administration

Summary administration can be used in the administration of a resident or non-resident’s estate when the following criteria are met:

  • When the decedent had a will but the will does not direct administration of the estate.
  • The value of the entire estate in Florida (minus any exempt property) is not in excess of $75,000 or if the descendent has been dead for over 2 years. (Under the Statute of Repose, two years is the maximum period during which claims can be made against an estate.)

Distribution of Personal Property Without Administration

Since this is titled “distribution of personal property without administration”, it’s not actually administration at all. This process requires a filing to be made with the court that requests that personal property of the estate be distributed without probate administration. The court will approve this order when the decedent had only exempt property and non-exempt property that does not exceed the value of preferred funeral expenses (capped at $6,000) and what is considered “reasonable and necessary” medical and hospital expenses incurred during the last 60 days of illness.

Formal Probate Administration

Formal probate administration is required when the following criteria are met:

  • The decedent has been dead for 2 years or less
  • The value of the probate estate exceeds $75,000

What Are Probatable Assets?

It’s important to remember that the formal probate administration process quantifies the value of an estate as only probatable assets. Probatable assets include…

  • Property owned solely by the decedent or co-owned but a provision for automatic succession of ownership at death was lacking
  • Property that has been designated to an individual who is predeceased
  • Real estate
  • An inheritance received after death

Probatable assets do not include…

  • Joint tenancy properties with survivors
  • Property that has been designated to a surviving beneficiary
  • Transfer on death deeds
  • Assets that are being held in trust

The Formal Probate Process

The formal probate process is quite complicated and particularly lengthy. The process begins when a petition is made with the probate court to begin probate.

A qualified fiduciary must then apply to the court to be appointed as a personal representative or executor of the estate. This individual must be approved by the court and when approved they will be granted letters of administration that grant the representative authority over estate-related matters. The court may require an estate representative to post a bond or set up a restricted depository in lieu of the bond. This is intended to protect beneficiaries of the estate from maladministration by the estate administrator.

An estate administrator may receive compensation for their role. Florida statutes detail how this compensation should be calculated.

The Job of the Estate Administrator

It is the job of the estate administrator to notify creditors of the probate of the estate so that they can make claims on any debts owed to them. The administrator also takes care of the decedent’s final taxes, notifying the beneficiaries of the probate process, taking inventory of the estate, and filing that inventory with the courts. The administrator may then have to help to sell assets of the estate to take care of paying creditors or to help with the distribution of assets. Finally, the administrator must file a final accounting of the estate with the court and request that the estate is closed.

The estate administrator may hire a probate attorney and a probate accountant to assist with their duties and it’s highly recommended because of the intricacies involved with the probate process.

Florida Probate Administration: Summary Vs. Formal Administration

Do you live in the St. Pete area and need an attorney for Florida probate proceedings? If so, Weidner Law can help. Call 727-954-8752 today to find out how we can help you to get relief from the stress of probate proceedings.

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