Summary Administration in Florida
Get a complete breakdown of these abbreviated probate administrations, including how to sell real estate.
Summary Administration is a streamlined version of probate that typically is used for small estates. It generally takes less time and costs less than traditional formal probate proceedings. This type of administration is an option when the estimated value of assets owned by the deceased does not exceed certain thresholds set by Florida statutory law, excluding certain assets like homestead property.
Summary Administration is available under Ch. 735, F.S., for resident and nonresident decedent’s estates provided that the decedent’s will (if any) does not direct administration as required by Ch. 733, F.S., and either of these requirements is met:
- either the decedent has been dead for more than two years; or
- the decedent’s estate excluding the value of property which is exempt from creditors does not exceed $75,000;
Additionally, you need to know:
- the value of the decedent’s homestead, if any, is excluded from the jurisdictional limit for summary administration;
- if the death occurred more than two years before the commencement of summary administration, there is no jurisdictional amount; and
- all debts owed by the decedent’s estate must have already been paid or otherwise extinguished. Sec. 735.206(2), F.S., requires a diligent search and reasonable inquiry for any known or reasonably ascertainable creditors, service of a copy of the petition for summary administration upon all creditors who are discovered, and provision for payment of the creditors to the extent that assets permit.
Where do I file a Summary Administration?
These administrations are filed online and should be filed for the County where the decedent’s real property is located. If the decedent did not own Florida real estate at the time of death, then the filing should be made in the county where the decedent last resided in Florida.
What Information is Required in a Petition for Summary Administration?
The petition for summary administration must be verified as required by law and contain specific information as outlined in Chapter 5, Rule 5.530, of the Florida Rules of Court Procedure. This rule also directs who the petition shall be served upon, the inclusion of the original last will and testament if any, and the language that must be included in the Order of Summary Administration. See below for the additional documents that are required to accompany a petition for summary administration.
The court generally approves requests for Summary Administration much faster than a formal probate administration because third parties such as creditors may not need to be notified or given an opportunity to raise objections. When all necessary paperwork has been submitted and all other requirements are met, approval from the court could take as little as 30 days from when the summary administration petition was filed.
Creditors – Known Creditors and Creditors Filing a Claim After Publication of a Notice To Creditors
Creditors do not need to be notified when a summary administration petition is filed unless they have filed a Caveat or they have opened an estate within two years after death. Additionally, if a petition for summary administration is filed within 2 years of the date of death of the decedent, then the petitioner is required to provide notice to known creditors or creditors who make their claims known after the publishing of a Notice to Creditors in a local publication. If this occurs during the 3-month creditor period that begins with the publication of the Notice to Creditors, then creditors can still file a claim and objections disputing the distribution proposed in the petition for summary administration.
Costs Associated with a Summary Administration; Additional Documents to be Filed with a Petition
Costs associated with summary administration proceedings vary depending on whether or not a notice to creditors has to be published (publication can cost between $100-$250, depending on the county where the petition is filed). However, information about the court filing fees and the other documents that must accompany a petition can be found on this probate information sheet.
Florida Statutory Law Governing Summary Administration
Summary administration procedures in Florida conform primarily with Chapter 735 of Title XLIII – Probate Code sections 735.201 et seq., which outlines specific rules about who can file petitions for summary administration as well as related timelines, documents required as part of the petition filing process, form, and content of orders authorizing distribution based on these petitions, etc. Additionally, there may also be local rules governing these administrations depending upon the county where in Florida the petitioner files his/her request for summary administration.
Selling Real Estate During a Summary Administration
When selling real estate within two years of the decedent’s death, the seller will likely be required by the buyer’s title agent to (1) record proof that a search for and service upon such creditors has been accomplished; (2) provide proof of an absence of any recorded judgment, lien, or unresolved litigation against the decedent; (3) pay or obtain a release of any creditors’ claims which have been filed or are otherwise known or ascertainable; (4) record any previously entered order of summary administration; (5) record the decedent’s will, if any, and the order admitting it to probate, and (6) convey by warranty deed from those beneficiaries identified in the order of summary administration and possibly other interested parties.
Additionally, the title company will likely require an order from the probate court determining that the property in question is the decedent’s protected homestead. This determination may be included in the order of summary administration or made by separate order. Any order determining homestead must have been preceded by notice to all interested persons, including but not limited to, known or ascertainable creditors. The good news for those not wishing to handle these title matters on their own is an experienced real estate lawyer will take care of these issues for you.
Note: In summary administrations where the decedent has been dead for more than two years before the petition for summary administration is filed then there is no need to address any creditor issues (items (1) and (3) above), which means no order determining homestead will be necessary as well.
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