The Complete Guide to Florida Summary Administration

The Complete Guide to Florida Summary AdministrationFlorida summary administration is a short form of the Florida probate law; one which does not need an appointment with a personal representative in the state. Summary administration usually requires little time, effort and also expenses as compared to Florida formal administration.

According to the Florida summary administration checklist an estate can be qualified for summary administration in Florida only if:

  • The decedents have been dead for a period of two years or more
  • The value of the estate subjected to administration in Florida, minus the property exempt from claims of any creditor is not more than $75000.
  • In testate estate, the decedents will does not give directions for administration as it is required by chapter 733 of the Florida Statutes and Constitution.

However if the decedent has a last will and a testament that mentions formal probate as specific directions, an estate cannot qualify for summary administration even though it meets both of the above mentioned requirements.

How Does Florida Summary Administration Work?

How to File a Summary Administration in Florida?

For Florida Summary Administration without a will, a petition needs to be filed in the court. The petition can be filed by any of the beneficiaries of the decedent or any person that has been nominated as a representative in the will of the decedent. However, the petition needed to be verified and signed by (if any) surviving spouse of the decedent.

It should however be kept in mind that the rules of the probate require that any petition that is filed includes facts and figures confirming that the estate is legally eligible for summary administration, a complete list of assets and their corresponding market values, specified information about the debt on the state (if any) and also a complete plan for the distribution of the assets. Once the court is satisfied with the qualifying status of the estate after submission of the petition, an order is issued for the distribution of the assets and no personal representative is required unlike formal administration petitions.  A Florida summary administration notice to creditors is sent by the court and the assets are distributed immediately after the orders allowing the estate to probate are entered by the court.

What Happens To Summary Administration If A Creditor Claims?

If the decent dies two or more years before the summary administration, creditor claims usually aren’t an issue. According to the Florida probate laws, if the creditors do not file any claim within two years of the decedent’s death, they are effectively barred from any other claim in the future. This is known as a non-claim provision and it allows the creditor claims to not be addressed as a part of the probate process if the decedent died two or more years ago.

However, if it has been under two years since the death of the decedent then the creditor claims need to be dealt before a proper order for the distribution of assets is issued by the court. According to Florida probate laws a petitioner for summary administration is required to make a very diligent search and inquiry regarding any ascertainable creditors, serve a copy of the petition filed to those creditors and also make provisions to make payments to the creditors to an extent the assets can manage to pay off.

Florida Summary Administration Homestead Property

If the decedent had a primary residence property that he lived in, then Florida homestead law will be considered along with summary administration. This is a special asset type in Florida and the homestead property in Florida automatically passes to the heir apparent of the deceased person as per the Florida Constitution. However that doesn’t mean that the heir apparent has a clear title (a title that can actually be sold). Majority of the title writers in Florida will need an order determining homestead in Florida before they can issue a title policy and until then the title of the heirs will not be cleared.

If a decedent had a Florida Homestead to his asset, an entirely separate proceeding will be needed along with the summary administration to determine the homestead property. This can actually affect the timeline of the proceedings in a number of counties in Florida and a number of judges in the counties will enter order of summary administration and order determining homestead together. This will enable the court to complete the proceedings of the summary administration within its usual time frame of four to eight weeks. However, a number of judges in the county might call for a three month waiting period before they can issue the order determining homestead thus elongating the processing period of summary administration by a full three months.

There are no restrictions or limitations of $75000 governing Florida Homestead. If the homestead is only asset of state, it directly qualifies for summary administration without any regards to its value on the market.

Florida Summary Administration Forms

The form that is needed to file the petition of Florida summary administration is the Petition for Family Administration form and it will need to be filed with the clerk of any circuit court. Online resources are also available for the filing of the petition and can be utilized in case the petitioner needs direct access to form submission.

No standardized form for petition filing for summary administration is available however one can be drafted if you follow chapter 735 of Florida statutes.

Here is a small excerpt of the chapter 735 of the Florida Statutes:

735 Petitions for Family Administration

  • A verified petition of family administration needs to contain the following:
  • Facts that show that the petitioners are actually entitled to all family administrations as provided
  • Comprehensive list of assets of the total estate for the federal estate taxes and their approximated values
  • Statement confirming that the estate is not under debt, payments for debts have been made and or all claims are barred
  • Schedule proposed for the distribution of assets to those who are entitled; surviving spouse, beneficiaries, heirs or creditors.

The petition form will have to be signed and verified by all the beneficiaries and also the surviving spouse (if any) of the decedent. The petition can be signed on by a legal guardian or natural guardian for a minor or incompetent individual.

You will have to purchase your Florida Summary Administration form from US Legal or download them from a reliable source online.

What is Florida Summary Administration Notice to Creditors?

Any individual who has petitioned for and received an order of summary administration needs to publish a notice to all creditors according to requirements of chapter 733.2121. The notice needs to notify all people having claims or any demand regarding the estate that an order for summary administration has been entered in the court. The notice will also specify the actual market value of the estate and the details of those who have been assigned.

When the petitioner submits publication proof for the notice in the court, all claims of the creditors against the complete estate of the deceased will be barred in case the demands and claims are not filed within the first 3 months of the notice being published.

Florida Summary Administration Attorney Fee

One thing that people filing petitions for summary administration worry about the most in Florida is the attorney fee. This is because the cost of Florida probate is comparatively higher and quite expensive as compared to other states. Also if the estate is small, then it’s better to know the cost of the probate proceedings beforehand so that you don’t end up spending a fortune for a piece of land that’s worth about nothing.

The biggest cost would be the attorney’s fee where Florida Summary Administration is concerned. And because the probate laws and rules in Florida require a probate attorney for the case proceedings, the fee becomes an unavoidable part of the entire process.

According to Florida laws, the attorney for the personal representatives of an estate can be compensated with a reasonable amount from the estate assets. But that would only be possible if there are enough assets to pay a hefty attorney fee for a Florida probate attorney.

The best part however is the fact that the courts in Florida keep an authority to reduce the fee of the probate attorney in case the sum seems unreasonable for a number of cases. However the reasonable fee happens to be inherently subjective. You will find no two people who agree upon the reasonableness of a particular sum for a summary administration lawyer in Florida.

However the Florida probate code list has fees presumptions that are deemed to be reasonable as per a given estate value; have a look below:

  • Estate value $40,000 or less will require an attorney fee to be under or equal to $1500
  • Value above $40000 but less than $70000 would amount for $2500
  • $70000 to $100,000 amounts for approx. $3000
  • $100,000 to $10,000,00 would amount for approx. $3000 along with 3% of the estate’s value

And so on and so forth…

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