Summary administration is a shortened form of the Probate process that does not require an appointment of a personal representative. When you are handling the transfer of an estate that is worth $75,000.00 or less, you can petition for a summary administration and avoid the formal probate process. When an estate is eligible for summary administration, there will typically be less time, effort, and expenses exhausted to administer the estate.
When does an Estate qualify for Summary Administration?–
Summary administration is available in the following two scenarios:
- The value of the entire estate subject to administration in Florida, exempt property and homestead property, does not exceed $75,000; or
- The decedent has been dead for more than two years.
How does Summary Administration work?–
Florida summary administration starts with filing a petition in court. The petition for summary administration may be filed by any beneficiary or by a person nominated as a personal representative by the decedent’s will.
The probate rules require that the petition include information showing the estate is eligible for summary administration, a list of assets and their values, certain information about the estate’s debt, and a plan for distributing the assets. The information for all beneficiaries and the surviving spouse (if any) must all be included. Once the court receives the petition and is satisfied that the estate qualifies, the court issues an order distributing the assets. Unlike a formal administration, a personal representative is not appointed.
The assets of the estate are immediately distributed to beneficiaries and creditors upon the entry of the order admitting the estate to probate.
Differences between Summary Administration and Formal Administration–
One difference between a summary administration and a formal administration in Florida is the amount of time it takes to complete and close out the administration. Generally, summary administration can be closed in between 1-3 months. Formal administration will take at a minimum 6 months in order to be able to complete and close out the estate administration. Summary administrations are usually quicker than Formal administrations because they require less filings and fewer steps.
Summary administration is ideal when the deceased person had no creditors (i.e. people or entities he or she owed money too), the only assets of the deceased person are exempt assets (protected against creditors), or if the deceased person has been dead for over two years and all the creditors are barred.
The expenses of summary administration are considerably less than those of formal administration. The attorney’s fee is reduced. There is no personal representative to pay a fee to, and there are no costs to publish notices to creditors as it is not required by statue (although it is at times still recommended).
Disadvantages of Summary Administration–
Although Summary administration has advantages—such as lower costs and a quicker process—there are some potential disadvantages of filing for summary administration. Some disadvantages include:
- No personal representative is given authority to act on behalf of the estate which means there is no practical way to find hidden assets or negotiate with and object to creditors.
- Transferring assets can be more difficult if banks or other financial institutions will not work with the individual handling the estate’s affairs.
- The two-year waiting period to avoid creditors on estates with non-exempt property can delay resolution of family affairs.
- Without a formal inventory of assets, it is up to the family to account for all the deceased’s assets prior to filing.
Is summary administration the best option for you? Ultimately, it depends on what types of assets your loved one left behind, the size of the estate, and whether there are creditors that need to be satisfied. That is why working with an experienced estate administration attorney is so important. At The Florida Estate Planning Law Firm, our experienced estate and probate team are here to provide the necessary guidance. We will help you decide the best strategy for your family’s estate and ensure you satisfy the court’s requirements at every stage of the process and we can help you be sure your family members are provided for after a loved one’s death. We serve the entire state of Florida so call us at 305-384-3386 with any questions you may have.