Although the probate process has a lengthy, costly reputation, Florida offers residents a streamlined form of probate called summary administration. This may be the best option when an estate has few creditors and/or the estate assets are creditor-exempt.

Whether you are planning your own estate in Florida or assisting a loved one who lives here in the state, learn more about summary administration before facing probate.

Qualifying for summary administration

In 2019, an eligible estate must total less than $75,000, not including a Florida homestead that served as the person’s permanent residence. If the individual died more than two years ago, his or her estate automatically qualifies for summary administration provided it has not previously gone through probate.

If the estate qualifies, the court could complete the probate process in as little as a week. Usually, summary administration takes several months, much less than the average time for formal probate administration in Florida.

Starting the process

When a loved one dies, any heir, beneficiary or named executor can file Petition for Summary Administration, which the surviving spouse and all beneficiaries must sign and verify. The person who files must serve beneficiaries who do not sign with formal notice of the petition.

The petition must list the person’s assets, the value of each item and its named beneficiary. You should also enclose a copy of the will.

The court will determine whether the estate is eligible for summary probate and enter an order allowing beneficiaries to claim their inheritance. You should also serve creditors, if any, with a copy of this petition. Creditors will have three months from the notification date to claim assets from the estate.

The filing fee for the summary administration petition varies by county. Most families will pay $200 to $400. You may also want an attorney to oversee this process and ensure that probate administration goes smoothly.