In Florida, estates can either go through formal or summary probate administration. This might be confusing to some who only understand probate as a general concept. The following basic guide to the two processes can help you understand their difference better.
Knowing which one applies to an estate
To know which of the two proceedings an estate will fall under, the courts will look into the following determining factors:
- The value of the estate: If the estate’s value is greater than $75,000, it must follow the formal probate administration. On the other hand, estates with a value of $75,000 or less will qualify for summary administration.
- The estate owner’s date of death: Regardless of the estate’s value, estates commenced within two years of the decedent’s death will follow the formal administration rules. On the other hand, estates commenced at least two years after the decedent’s death will qualify for summary probate.
Note that there are other circumstances that would warrant a formal administration, such as a disagreement about procedures between heirs, unknown portions of the estate and unsettled bills and debts.
Formal vs. summary: Procedure
Formal probate follows the regular process of administering an estate, which can take longer and cost more. Additionally, this process may require more documentation and formalities.
On the other hand, summary administration is a streamlined and accelerated process of distributing assets to heirs. Before a summary probate starts, the petition must confirm that the estate no longer has outstanding debts to be resolved. Otherwise, the petitioner might be personally liable for any debt claims filed against the estate.
Determining the procedure for the estate you are dealing with
Formal and summary probate administration can be tricky, especially for those without a background in probate or legal concepts. Whether you are an heir or an executor, you can determine the appropriate process for the estate you are dealing with by looking into the facts and circumstances surrounding the estate.