What is Summary Estate Administration?
In Florida, Summary Estate Administration is governed under Fla Statutes 735.201 through 735.2063 and is appropriate for small value assets that require the Probate Court's involvement for disposition. To qualify for a Summary Estate Administration, the value of all assets exempt from creditor claims must not exceed $75,000 or the decedent has been dead for more than two years (Fla Statute 735.201(2))
Some parts of the Summary Probate Estate Administration are the same as the proceedings in Formal Probate Administration. If the decedent died with a Last Will and Testament, the instrument
must still be examined and admitted for probate, having been determined to be executed properly. If the decedent died without a Last Will and Testament, then the proceeding must include a determination of the proper heirs under the Florida Statutes of Intestacy (Fla Statute 732.101 to 732.111)
In a Summary Administration, however, there is no appointment of a personal representative (and no issuance of the Letters of Administration). Therefore, an Order of Summary Administration is a specific judicial order that directs a financial institution or other entity to transfer a specific asset to an heir. If additional assets are found, then an additional Order of Summary Administration must be obtained, and the proceedings must occur again.
And the implications of an Order of Summary Administration are profoundly different regarding the impact of how creditor claims are handled. With a formal probate administration, a Notice to Creditors is published in the local county's business newspaper, where legal notices are routinely printed. The publication of the Notice to Creditors will shorten the period for which any creditor may file a claim against the estate to only four months after publication (Fla. Statute 733.705) instead of the two years from the date of death of the decedent.
With a Formal Probate Administration, creditor claims are resolved and settled, and then the Estate assets are transferred to the heirs. With a Summary Administration, the heirs have the advantage of receiving the asset before the extinguishing of the creditor claims but must agree to be responsible personally for any debt of the decedent up to the value of the Estate asset obtained by the Summary Estate Administration for up to two years after the date of death (Fla Statute 735.206 (e). When multiple heirs are involved or there are later multiple creditor claims presented, this can be a nightmare for the heirs without additional judicial proceedings.
Before proceeding with a Summary Administration, you should consult an experienced probate attorney to ensure that this is the best course of action and decide if it may not be more prudent to open a Formal Probate Administration.
When someone you love dies, knowing the next steps to settle their affairs can be overwhelming. We are here to guide you through the process and address all of your concerns. We will explain how Florida estate administration laws apply to your case in a way you can understand.
Give us a call. We can help.
Law Office of Shawn C. Newman, P.A.
710 Northeast 26th Street
Wilton Manors, FL 33305-1238
Phone: (954) 563-9160
Serving all of the greater Fort Lauderdale area and Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade counties in Southern Florida.