Most Florida residents try to avoid the probate process if possible, assuming it to be costly, complex and lengthy. Unfortunately, the estates of Florida residents who die without a will must go through probate, which is the legal process of distributing a person’s estate to their beneficiaries and paying any debts the person left behind.
Formal and summary administration
There are two main types of probate administration options in Florida: formal administration and summary administration. Summary administration is only an option if the decedent’s total estate is less than $75,000, or if they have been deceased for more than 2 years before the probate filing.
Although summary administration may sound like the more attractive option if one of these criteria are met, there are some drawbacks. There is no personal representative appointed. A personal representative is a single person selected to identify all the estate’s assets and debts and oversee the estate administration. Without this specific person appointed, the process can become messy and complicated.
A formal administration is an option for any estate, no matter the size. A formal administration involves the appointment of a personal representative, will likely be more costly and will generally take longer. However, it may be a better choice for people who want to ensure the estate administration is controlled by one person, particularly if there are a lot of heirs or creditors.
Disposition of personal property without administration
There is one other administration option, which is called a disposition of personal property without administration. This option is only available for estates without any real property and assets that are less than probate expenses or exempt from creditors.
No matter which administration option is chosen, having the advice and assistance of a probate attorney can help to avoid unnecessary complications and pitfalls.