Summary administration in Florida probate is a simplified form of administration. Summary administrations are faster than formal administrations, and no personal representative is appointed.
What Is A Summary Administration?
A summary administration is a type of probate administration available in Florida:
1) When the value of decedent’s probate estate subject to administration does not exceed $75,000, OR,
2) The decedent has been dead for over 2 years. See Fla. Stat. § 735.201
What Is The Summary Administration Process?
A summary administration begins by filing a Petition for Summary Administration. A petition for summary administration:
- May be filed by any beneficiary or person nominated as personal representative in decedent’s will offered for probate.
- The petition must be signed and verified by the surviving spouse, if any, and all beneficiaries unless the beneficiaries will receive a full distributive share under the proposed distribution of the estate.
- The petition must be served by formal notice on any beneficiary not joining in the petition.
Many counties in Florida have specific requirements for items that must be filed along with a Petition for Summary Administration. In addition to the death certificate and a paid funeral bill, some counties require an Affidavit of Heirs or of Criminal History to be submitted as well. It is important to visit the clerk of court website of the county in which you will be filing for summary administration to make sure you comply with all of the requirements.
After the petition is filed, if the court determines that the decedent’s estate qualifies for summary administration, it must enter an order distributing the probate assets and specifically designating the person to whom each asset is to be distributed.
What Must Be Included In A Petition For Summary Administration?
Florida Probate Rule 5.530 sets forth the requirements for the contents of a petition for summary administration. Rule 5.530 should be followed explicitly. The petition for summary administration must be verified and contain:
(1) a statement of the interest of each petitioner, each petitioner’s name and address, and the name and office address of each petitioner’s attorney;
(2) the name and last known address of the decedent, last 4 digits of the decedent’s social security number, date and place of death of the decedent, and state and county of the decedent’s domicile;
(3) so far as is known, the names and addresses of the surviving spouse, if any, and the beneficiaries and their relationship to the decedent and the year of birth of any who are minors;
(4) a statement showing venue;
(5) a statement whether domiciliary or principal proceedings are pending in another state or country, if known, and the name and address of the foreign personal representative and the court issuing letters;
(6) a statement that the decedent’s will, if any, does not direct administration as required by chapter 733, Florida Statutes;
(7) a statement that the value of the entire estate subject to administration in this state, less the value of property exempt from the claims of creditors, does not exceed $75,000 or that the decedent has been dead for more than 2 years;
(8) a description of all assets in the estate and the estimated value of each, and a separate description of any protected homestead and exempt property;
(9) a statement either:
(A) that all creditors’ claims are barred or
(B) that a diligent search and reasonable inquiry for any known or reasonably ascertainable creditors has been made and one of the following:
(i) A statement that the estate is not indebted.
(ii) The name and address of each creditor, the nature of the debt, the amount of the debt and whether the amount is estimated or exact, and when the debt is due. If provision for payment of the debt has been made other than for full payment in the proposed order of distribution, the following information must be shown:
(a) The name of the person who will pay the debt.
(b) The creditor’s written consent for substitution or assumption of the debt by another person.
(c) The amount to be paid if the debt has been compromised.
(d) The terms for payment and any limitations on the liability of the person paying the debt.
(10) in an intestate estate, a statement that after the exercise of reasonable diligence each petitioner is unaware of any unrevoked wills or codicils;
(11) in a testate estate, a statement identifying all unrevoked wills and codicils being presented for probate, and a statement that each petitioner is unaware of any other unrevoked will or codicil; and
(12) a schedule of proposed distribution of all probate assets and the person to whom each asset is to be distributed.
Is Summary Administration Available If Decedent Owned Protected Florida Homestead Property?
Yes. The value of the decedent’s homestead is exempt from the $75,000 threshold, and therefore does not count towards the value of decedent’s estate.
If a summary administration involves a Florida homestead property, you should file the petition to determine homestead property at the same time that you file the Petition for Summary Administration. The court will generally enter the Order of Homestead and the Order of Summary Administration at the same time.
It is not uncommon for people to open a summary administration for the sole purpose of obtaining a homestead order.
Creditors and Summary Administration
In the Petition for Summary Administration, the petitioner is required to certify that they know of no outstanding debts or that provision for payment of the debts has been made. Once an Order of Summary Administration has been issued, the petitioner and anyone who joined in it can be liable for any creditor claims and demands made against decedent’s estate, to the extent of the value received by each. Florida Statute § 735.206.
Upon obtaining an order of summary administration, Notice to Creditors can be published to foreclose claims and demands against the estate. Florida Statute § 735.2063.
If the decedent had a lot of creditors, it can be a good idea to open a formal administration and do a notice to creditors to foreclose creditor claims even if the estate qualifies for a summary administration. If the decedent has been dead for over two years, creditor claims would be barred.
How Long Does A Summary Administration Take In Florida Probate?
A summary administration in Florida takes roughly 1-3 months. As soon as the required filings are made with the probate court, the length of time will depend on whether the court has any issues with your petitions, and how soon the petitions are reviewed by the court.
What Is The Difference Between A Summary And Formal Probate Administration?
There are some major differences between a Florida summary administration and a formal administration.
In a summary administration, no personal representative is appointed.
In a summary administration, because there are less required filings and no personal representatives, the costs and expenses are much less than with a formal administration.
In a summary administration, you are not required to send out a Notice to Creditors.
Summary administrations do not take as long as formal probate administrations.