Summary Administration Probate Lawyer

While a summary administration provides a shortcut to probate, it may not be available to every estate. Our summary administration probate lawyer at Medley Law Firm can address the questions and concerns you may have and assist you through the summary administration process.

Summary administration is a shortcut through the usual probate process that’s available in some jurisdictions for smaller estates or under certain circumstances. This simplified probate process is designed for scenarios where estate values fall below a specific threshold, negating the need for more drawn-out and formal probate. However, even summary administration requires careful legal navigation to ensure compliance with all legal standards and requirements.

At Medley Law Firm, we understand that the probate process can be difficult for individuals to navigate. Our summary administration probate lawyer provides comprehensive legal guidance to those setting up an estate plan with the goal of avoiding or streamlining the probate process. We also offer assistance to heirs of those who died when going through a summary administration. 

Need help with a summary administration? Reach out to Medley Law Firm to discuss how we might be able to help you. Call (850) 607-7890 to receive a case evaluation.

Understanding the Summary Probate Administration

According to the Florida State Courts System’s Self-Help Center, the state law recognizes two types of probate administration: formal administration (the traditional probate process) and summary administration. 

A summary administration probate process is an expedited alternative to formal probate meant to simplify the settling of smaller estates. To qualify for summary administration, either the deceased must have been deceased for more than two years or the value of the entire estate subject to probate must not exceed $75,000 pursuant to Fla. Stat. § 735.201

The Summary Administration Probate Process 

Our step-by-step guide below can help you understand what happens during the summary administration probate process in Florida: 

  1. Depositing the decedent’s will: The process begins by depositing the will, if one exists, with the clerk of the circuit court in the appropriate county. This step must be carried out within ten days after learning of the death in accordance with Fla. Stat. § 732.901
  2. Opening a summary administration: To open a summary administration, a petition must be filed with the court, usually by the surviving spouse or beneficiary. This petition includes detailed information about the estate, heirs, and proposed asset distribution.
  3. Settling creditor claims: If the decedent has been dead for less than two years, creditors must be formally notified so they can file their claims. If the two-year period has passed, any claims creditors attempt to file are typically considered time-barred under Fla. Stat. § 735.206(4)(f)
  4. Distributing assets: Once the creditor claim period expires or if there are no claims, and the court approves the petition for summary administration, an order is issued allowing the distribution of the estate assets among the beneficiaries as outlined in the petition.
  5. Closing out a summary administration: Following the asset distribution, the summary administration is essentially complete. To close out a summary administration, the petitioner must petition the court to file a final order of summary administration.

Although not as complex and confusing as a formal administration, a summary administration may not be as straightforward as you hope it to be. That is why you may need the assistance of a skilled summary administration probate lawyer at Medley Law Firm to address the many nuances involved in the probate process. 

The Difference Between Summary Administration and Formal Administration

Among the probate options available, summary administration and formal administration are two distinct paths, each with its unique procedures and requirements. Understanding the key differences between these two forms of probate administration is essential for those creating an estate plan aiming to ease the administrative burdens after their passing. 

  • The time it takes to complete the probate administration: Typically, a summary administration is a faster process as it is a simplified probate procedure intended for smaller estates, while a formal administration is a more time-consuming process due to its comprehensive nature. 
  • The need for a personal representative: A summary administration does not require the appointment of a personal representative (executor) to manage the estate’s affairs. A formal administration, on the other hand, necessitates the designation of a personal representative to oversee estate matters, such as collecting and distributing assets. 
  • The legal formalities involved: A summary administration involves fewer procedural requirements and legal formalities compared to formal administration, which typically necessitates adherence to numerous legal formalities, including regular accountings.
  • The value of the estate for eligibility: In Florida, a summary administration is only available for estates with a value of less than $75,000 or when the decedent has been deceased for more than two years, while a formal administration is used for estates exceeding the $75,000 threshold or requiring extensive administration. 
  • The level of court involvement: While a summary administration minimizes court intervention and simplifies the probate experience, a formal administration involves more substantial court oversight, which can increase the time and complexity of the probate.
  • The administration cost: Generally, a summary administration is less costly due to reduced filing fees and attorney costs given the simplified process, while a formal administration incurs higher costs related to court fees and requires personal representative fees. 

Individuals setting up their estate plan might want to work with a summary administration probate lawyer to structure their estate plan in a way that would minimize the administrative burden on their heirs and alleviate the emotional toll for everyone involved after their passing. 

The Benefits and Pitfalls of Summary Administration

Dealing with the loss of a loved one is an emotional journey and the added responsibility of navigating the legalities of their estate can be overwhelming. A summary administration, when available, offers a number of benefits to sidestep the intricacies of the traditional probate process. Some of the distinct advantages of a summary administration include:

  • More affordable: The cost of probate can quickly escalate with lengthy court proceedings and various legal fees. Summary administration, by contrast, is a more cost-effective option because it involves fewer steps and typically requires less court and lawyer involvement. This cost-efficiency makes it a budget-friendly choice for many Floridians.
  • More straightforward: Unlike formal administration, the summary administration process is simpler, involving less paperwork and fewer court appearances. The straightforward nature of this process helps to mitigate confusion, making it easier for those unfamiliar with legal procedures to understand.
  • Faster: Time is often of the essence in the settling of an estate, and summary administration offers a quicker resolution compared to traditional probate. This expediency allows for the distribution of assets to be carried out in a timely manner, providing closure and financial benefits to the beneficiaries sooner.
  • Less stress and emotional turmoil: The emotional toll of probate can compound the grief of loss. Summary administration in Florida is designed to minimize the emotional strain on families by simplifying the legal process. This less cumbersome approach helps individuals and families to focus on healing and moving forward during a difficult time.

Despite the many benefits of a summary administration, several pitfalls can arise when the probate takes a simplified route, possibly complicating what is supposed to be a simple process. Some of the potential disadvantages of a summary administration include:

  • Not every estate is eligible: Not all estates qualify for a summary administration in Florida, not to mention that mistakenly assuming eligibility can lead to delays and additional expenses.
  • Lack of personal representative: Unlike formal administration, a summary administration does not require the appointment of a personal representative to manage the estate’s affairs. This lack of official representation can make it challenging to inquire about, collect, manage, or dispose of assets, leaving beneficiaries to handle these tasks often without clear authority or direction.
  • Inadequate or incomplete documentation: Beneficiaries may struggle to find all relevant financial records, deeds, and testamentary documents. When documentation is inadequate, completing the process becomes more difficult and may require a formal administration.
  • Creditor claims: Estates are often subject to claims from creditors, and in summary administration, these claims might be overlooked or surface unexpectedly after the distribution of assets. Without a probate procedure to address creditor notifications and objections properly, beneficiaries may become personally liable for unforeseen claims.
  • Family disputes: The simplicity of summary administration can exacerbate underlying tensions among beneficiaries. When there’s no personal representative to mediate or court oversight, disputes could potentially derail the distribution of assets, leading to potential litigation that summary administration is intended to avoid.
  • Federal tax liens (IRS) or back taxes owed: Unresolved federal tax liens or unpaid taxes complicate the probate process. Summary administration may not adequately address these issues, potentially blindsiding beneficiaries with tax liabilities attached to their newfound assets.
  • Property in foreclosure: Real estate in a state of foreclosure presents unique challenges in a summary administration. Since time is of the essence in foreclosure situations, the expedited nature of summary administration may not align with foreclosure timelines, risking the loss of property before probate issues are settled.

While summary administration can be a beneficial tool in the right circumstances, its potential downfalls underscore the importance of thorough estate planning and working with a summary administration probate lawyer.

Summary Administration Probate Lawyer Frequently Asked Questions

In this FAQ section, we are going to provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about summary administration.

  • What is a summary administration? 

Summary administration is a streamlined form of probate available in certain situations which is typically quicker and less complicated than the formal administration process. It is a legal process that deals with the distribution of a deceased person’s assets without the appointment of a personal representative. 

  • How does a summary administration work? 

In summary administration, an interested party, usually a beneficiary or heir, files a petition with the court requesting that the estate be administered using this simplified method. The petition includes a list of all known assets and debts, as well as a proposed plan for distribution to the heirs or beneficiaries.

  • When can a summary administration be filed? 

In Florida, a summary administration can generally be filed if the value of the estate subject to probate is not more than $75,000 or the decedent has been deceased for more than two years.

  • What happens when a summary administration is approved?

Upon approval of the summary administration, the court issues an order that releases the assets to the persons entitled to them. This order effectively acts as a “shortcut” through the probate process, allowing for a quicker resolution and distribution of the estate.

  • How long does a summary administration take?

While the length of time can vary based on specific circumstances and court schedules, summary administration can often be completed within a few weeks to a few months, which is significantly faster than formal administration which can take several months to over a year.

Medley Law Firm: Get a Consultation with a Summary Administration Probate Lawyer 

Whether you are creating an estate plan or confronting probate’s complexities as an heir, remember that you do not have to face it alone. Hiring a summary administration probate lawyer at Medley Law Firm can offer peace of mind and a clear path forward. At Medley Law Firm, we can provide you with the most appropriate solution based on your individual needs. Get in touch today to schedule a case evaluation and discuss how we might be able to help you. Call (850) 607-7890

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Medley Law Firm is an Elder Law, Estate Planning and Probate firm in Pensacola, Florida that offers in-person professional services from Pensacola to Panama City and virtually across the entire state.

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