Florida Summary Administration Forms
Probate is a process supervised by the circuit court, which identifies a decedent’s debts and distributes the decedent’s assets to the beneficiaries.
Florida Summary Administration is a shortened form of probate that requires less time and effort than formal administration. Unlike formal administration, the probate proceedings in a summary administration don’t require a personal representative, and the court will not appoint one.
Can I Really File a Summary Administration in Florida Without an Attorney?
In most Florida counties, the court will accept a petition for summary administration from a pro se (self-represented) party without requiring a lawyer. If you do an internet search on this topic, you will see probate attorneys themselves arguing about this. It seems that either many of them don’t know this, or maybe they just think it’s bad for business. Florida judges sign numerous orders for summary administration each year prepared and filed by pro se parties who did not use a lawyer.
By law, A Formal Administration of Probate in Florida requires an attorney.
The Probate Court Uses an Intake Checklist
If you intend to prepare and file the forms for a summary administration of the decedent’s estate on your own, your primary focus should be to satisfy the court.
The probate clerk will compare your petition for summary administration, proposed order of summary administration and all of your other probate forms and supporting documents against their probate checklists. They will also check to see if interested parties were given proper notice of your petition for summary administration. If something is wrong with your probate paperwork, it could be rejected without further explanation. Clerks are not permitted to tell you what you are missing or how to correct your mistakes.
Is the Estate Eligible for Summary Administration?
Before you file Florida summary administration forms, you need to determine if the estate of the decedent is eligible. An estate must meet one of these two requirements to qualify for a Florida summary administration:
- The decedent has been dead more than two years prior to the filing of the petition for summary administration; or
- The value of the entire estate subject to administration in Florida, less the value of property exempt from the claims of creditors, must not exceed $75,000.
If the decedent’s Last Will and Testament directs a formal administration of probate, the option of filing Florida summary administration forms becomes unavailable. The estate must be probated with a formal administration through an attorney.
Where Do I Start?
To begin a Florida summary administration, the petitioner obtains the required Florida Summary Administration forms and files a petition for summary administration with the circuit court. The petition for Florida summary administration may be filed by any beneficiary or by a person selected as a personal representative by the decedent in a Will, but it must be verified and signed by the surviving spouse, if any.
Are There Court Filing Fees?
Yes. For a Florida estate valued at $1000 or more, the average filing fee in Florida is $345.
How Do I Know What to Put In the Forms?
Florida statutes specify what information must be included in the petition for summary administration. These include facts showing why the estate qualifies for summary administration, and information about the estate’s assets along with a proposed plan to distribute them. Summary administration in Florida is governed by Chapter 731 of the Florida Statutes. It is commonly referred to as the Florida Probate Code.
What is The End Result, and How Long Does it Take?
Once the judge reviews the petition and is satisfied that the estate qualifies, and the requirements of the law are met, the court will issue an order(s) distributing the assets. Processing time in the court is unpredictable and depends on things such as the size of the county, the workload and efficiency of the court, and even the time of year. We have seen pro se parties receive signed orders in as little as two weeks or as long as 7 months.
There May be Pitfalls
Just because an estate qualifies for a summary administration, it is not necessarily a, “no-brainer” to choose this course of action. There may be some, “cons” involved. For instance, in a Florida summary administration, there is a petitioner, but no personal representative. A petitioner does not have the same legal authority to inquire about, collect, manage, or dispose of assets in the same way that a court appointed personal representative does.
You may think that the estate is valued at under $75,000, but there may be bank accounts, stock accounts, or other assets that you are not even aware of. You will not have the authority to inquire about the possible existence of these assets, and banks and other institutions have no responsibility to disclose them.
Probate can be a complex area of law. That is why there are attorneys in Florida that specialize in probate. Probate matters often require a Florida probate attorney, not a document preparation service.
There are other factors that may come into play too, such as IRS issues, lawsuits, and foreclosure proceedings, to name a few. That’s why it’s always a good idea to locate and consult with a Florida probate attorney to answer your legal questions so that you can feel confident that you are making the right decisions.
Other Florida Summary Administration Forms that a pro se Filer May Need:
Petition for Summary Administration – Testate
Petition for Summary Administration – Intestate
Petition to Determine Homestead Status of Real Property
Proposed Order Determining Homestead Status of Real Property
Petition to Admit Will to Probate
Proposed Order Admitting Will to Probate
Affidavit of Heirs
Miscellaneous Forms Required by Local Courts
If You Want to Do It on Your Own
If you decide to file a Florida summary administration case on your own, and you are sure that you don’t require legal advice or representation, Florida Document Specialists can provide you with affordable clerical and procedural assistance in the preparation and filing of all the required Florida forms for Summary Administration. If you’re ready to get started, you can complete our online summary administration questionnaire. The questionnaire gives us the information that we need to complete your Florida Summary Administration forms.