What is Summary Administration in Florida, and Who Qualifies?

summary administration florida

When someone passes away, the surviving family members are left with the difficult task of figuring out what to do with their belongings. If the person who passed away owned assets in their name (a house, a car, bank accounts, etc.) that are worth more than $75,000, you typically have to go through a lengthy legal probate process called Formal Administration.

But for estates worth less than this, you may be able to sidestep probate through a shortcut called summary administration. Instead of the typical 9-12 months for full probate, summary administration can wrap up much more quickly.

The shortcut opens by meeting a few key criteria:

  • The deceased must have been a Florida resident
  • Their estate falls under the $75,000 property value limits set by Florida Statute 735.201

Summary probate administration can also be used when the decedent has been deceased for more than two years.

If the estate meets these parameters, the Summary Administration can save the beneficiaries substantial time, money, and effort.

Who Can Initiate Summary Administration in Florida?

Typically, any interested party has the authority to petition for Summary Administration.

How the Summary Administration Process Works, Step-by-Step

Successfully qualifying an estate for summary administration is just the beginning. Vollrath Law then guides families through the complete, multi-stage process:

Step 1: Preparing and Filing the Petition

The first step is to swiftly prepare the legal Petition for Summary Administration, including:

  • Drafting necessary petitions and pleadings for the court
  • Obtaining necessary signatures
  • Filing supporting documentation such as:
    • Last will and testament
    • Affidavits regarding estate details
    • Death certificate(s)

We submit the finished petition to the probate court, kickstarting the legal process while simultaneously arranging official notifications to inform any potential creditors of the proceedings.

Step 2: Notifying Beneficiaries

Florida law requires formal notification to all beneficiaries named in a will (or by law) within three months of filing the petition.

We guide families through this process, and our assistance ensures complete and transparent communication with beneficiaries early on. This minimizes potential disputes down the road.

Step 3: Securing Court Approval

We then petition the probate court and if satisfied with the evidence, the judge then issues a court Order granting legal authority to proceed with summary administration without further mandated actions.

Step 4: Settling Debts & Distributing Assets

Once any legitimate outstanding debts are settled, the remaining assets are allocated to beneficiaries as directed in the judge’s Order.

When Summary Administration Falls Short

While summary administration works for many estates, it has some limitations:

  • Complex creditor claims – Multiple disputed debts or liens may require court supervision under formal probate.
  • Estate litigation – Wrongful death claims or contests over the will validity necessitate full proceedings.
  • Multi-state assets – Property spanning multiple states falls outside simplified Florida protocols.
  • Excess estate value – If the total value after homestead exemptions still exceeds limits, formal probate is mandatory.

However, even borderline cases may still benefit from summary administration:

  • Experienced probate attorneys can often uncover qualifying opportunities through specialized property knowledge or creditor negotiations.
  • Opting first for a summary petition allows a potential shift to formal probate if the judge deems it necessary.
  • Legal expertise guides asset allocation and creditor resolutions for simpler accountability.

So, while summary administration cannot fit every scenario, strategic legal guidance can maximize efficiency.

Let Our Team Guide You Through Estate Administration

Lean on Vollrath Law’s probate attorneys to avoid common summary administration pitfalls and expedite resolutions. The probate process is inherently slow – let us secure the faster route for your family. Contact us today, and we can discuss options tailored to your unique needs and timeline.

Author Bio

Stephanie Vollrath is an Owner and Partner of Vollrath Law, a Florida estate planning law firm she founded in 2013. With more than seven years of experience in investments and financial advising and 13 years practicing law in Florida, she represented clients in a wide range of estate planning cases. Her practice areas include wills, trusts, guardianship, probate, and other estate planning matters.

Stephanie received her Juris Doctor from the Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law and is a member of the Florida Bar and the Seminole County Bar Association.

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