What Is Summary Administration in Probate?
Sometimes, a loved one may pass on with very few assets, or very few heirs to will their assets to. In these situations, it can be somewhat overly complex to put that family through a long, drawn-out probate process. There is a way, in some specific cases, to potentially bypass parts of Florida’s probate procedures in a method called summary administration. It can be a great help to a grieving family if you are able to qualify for this process.
An estate can qualify for summary administration in one of two ways. The first and most common is if the decedent passes on having assets less than $75,000 – that figure also does not include the value of the homestead residence (primary residence), so if an estate has $60,000 in assets plus a homestead valued at $200,000, the estate would still qualify for summary administration. The second way for an estate to qualify for summary administration is if the person in question has been deceased for two years or more, regardless of the value of the estate. The rationale is that if two years have already passed, the estate may lose more and more value as time passes, so it is in everyone’s best interest to process it quickly.
There are caveats, however, to both routes. It is important to note that if a decedent specifically requests that their estate undergo formal probate in their will, it must be done regardless of asset value or time passed since the person’s passing. The state of Florida has a vested interest in honoring the wishes of the testator if at all possible – to not do so would open the door for more challenges to such documents. Also, while a homestead is not included in the asset limit for summary administration, this does not mean that a decedent’s heirs immediately have clear title to do as they wish with the property. Title must still be determined.
How To File
The process itself is not immediate; it can still take weeks or months, though this is significantly faster than a formal probate proceeding. A petition is filed, though no executor or personal representative is required (it can be filed by the surviving spouse or any other beneficiary). The petition must be formatted in a specific manner and present certain items, or it will be denied, though unless fraud is suspected, it can usually be filed again later without penalty.
The information that must be contained in the petition for summary administration is fairly straightforward, but can be very comprehensive. The petition must detail the reasons the estate is eligible for summary administration, as well as information on any debts or creditors, a list of assets, and a plan to distribute them. If any of these items is lacking, the petition will be dismissed or you may be given leave to amend. If all the information is present, the court will issue an order permitting distribution of all relevant assets, as long as title is clear.
Enlist A Knowledgeable Probate Attorney
Even a summary administration can be confusing to the layperson, especially when you have recently lost a loved one and need all your focus to get through the days. Getting a Hollywood probate lawyer on board can ease the burden. The skilled attorneys at the firm of Steven A. Mason, P.A. can help guide you through the process of distributing your loved one’s assets in a way that is minimally difficult for everyone involved.
Contact the Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. for legal advice at 954-963-5900 or leave a message online.