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Three Kinds of Probate: An Overview

Category: News

Probate is the process of administering a person’s final affairs after death. This primarily involves paying any outstanding debts and distributing the remainder of the decedent’s estate to his or her beneficiaries – although there are many more steps along the way. In Florida, there are three different kinds of probate, each available under different circumstances. These are known as:

• Formal Administration
• Summary Administration
• Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration

Three Options for Probate Under Florida Law

Option 1: Formal Administration

In Florida, most estates are subject to the probate process known as “formal administration.” Formal administration starts with the filing of a Petition for Administration, and then one of the first steps is to appoint a personal representative (also sometimes referred to as an executor), who will be responsible for administering the estate. If the decedent left a will, the will may specify the person who is to serve as the estate’s personal representative (PR). In the absence of a will, the court overseeing the administration will appoint the PR.

From there, the formal administration process involves, in order:

• Identifying and gathering the assets that make up the decedent’s estate
• Paying the costs of probate administration
• Paying off any debts that the decedent left behind
• Distributing the estate’s remaining assets to the decedent’s beneficiaries

This all sounds fairly straight-forward, and in some cases it can be. However, the personal representative plays a central role, and it is critical that the PR carefully meet all of his or her legal obligations. In addition, creditor claims, will contests and other disputes frequently arise that can significantly complicate and slow down the process.

Option 2: Summary Administration

Summary administration is a shortened probate process available under Florida law that does not require the appointment of a personal representative. Summary administration still starts with filing a Petition for Administration, but the overall process is more streamlined. As a result, summary administration generally costs less and is less intensive than formal administration. But, it is only available if:

• The decedent has been deceased for at least two years and there has been no prior administration, or
• The value of the estate subject to administration in Florida is $75,000 or less.
For purposes of the $75,000 threshold, the estate subject to administration excludes property that is exempt from the claims of creditors. A common example of this type of exempt property would be homestead real estate.

Option 3: Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration

The third option is known as Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration, or simply “Disposition Without Administration.” However, this option is available only under very limited circumstances. In order to qualify for Disposition Without Administration, the value of the decedent’s estate must not exceed the total of (i) preferred funeral expenses, and (ii) reasonable and necessary expenses incurred in the last 60 days of the decedent’s final illness (if any).

For More Information, Contact South West Florida Probate Trial Lawyers

South West Florida Probate Trial Lawyers is a law firm with more than 200 years of combined experience representing clients in probate disputes and a wide range of other estate litigation matters. If you are dealing with a probate administration issue in the Fort Myers area and have questions about your obligations or legal rights, please contact us for a free consultation. Let our Fort Myers probate lawyers help.