Nonlawyer Options for Florida Summary Administration
So, you’re looking for forms to file a Summary Administration in Florida. You’ve probably been surfing the web and have already learned….
1. You need to file forms for a probate process called a “Summary Administration”, and you’ve been searching for the forms and an affordable and stress-free way of completing them and filing them with the probate court;
2. You’ve learned that probate attorneys in Florida charge big bucks just to have their paralegals prepare a Petition for Summary Administration and the other Florida probate forms that go along with it;
3. You’ve learned that accomplishing your goal of sorting out your loved one’s assets requires more than just, “one form”, and the more you read, the more complicated and intimidating the process seems; and
4. You’ve found some “Internet Form Banks” or “Online Form-Filler” types of websites that advertise simple and cheap solutions for your Florida summary administration documents, but something doesn’t seem quite right to you. You’re very perceptive!
This is what our company, Florida Document Specialists, can offer you:
We are a family owned and operated company in Central Florida that is A+ rated, 5-Star reviewed, and accredited by the Central Florida Better Business Bureau. We serve all of Florida by offering non-lawyer preparation of document packages for the Florida Summary Administration Probate process. We assist our out-of-area or out-of-state customers by conducting business by email and USPS Priority Mail.
We are different from everyone else, because we don’t sell probate forms, and our processes aren’t automated. We provide a complete, flat-fee solution to help you accomplish your goal of getting an Order of Summary Administration signed by a judge quickly.
Our services include:
- Preparation of your Petition for Summary Administration and any other Florida probate forms that the court requires;
- We prepare your proposed orders for the judge’s signature. This includes the Order of Summary Administration, Order Admitting Will to Probate, and the Order for Determination of Homestead Property;
- We can also prepare documents for an ancillary Florida Summary Administration for our out-of-state customers whose family members owned property in Florida;
- We will file your case for you with the circuit court, and we’ll monitor your court docket weekly for updates;
- After filing your case, any additional forms or corrections requested by the court will be completed and filed at no additional charge. We’re with you until it’s over;
- Documents that need to be signed and notarized will be exchanged with you using prepaid USPS Priority Mail envelopes with tracking numbers. If you live close enough, you’re always welcome to come to our office in the Professional Building in Daytona Beach;
- You will work closely with one of our non-attorney staff members who will type all of your summary administration probate documents, proposed court orders, and correspondence with the court, using the factual information that you have provided, and;
- We will be readily available to you by phone and email until your summary administration is complete.
How much does it cost?
We charge a flat fee of $495 for our services. This price does not include the filing fees charged by the court. We also cover the cost of postage required to complete and file your case.
Are there court filing fees?
Yes. To file a Florida summary administration of probate for an estate valued at $1000 or more, the average filing fee in Florida is $345. Ancillary proceedings may cost $400. Although we file and monitor your case for you, the court filing fee is not included in our flat fee.
We’d be happy to speak with you.
Whether or not you choose to hire Florida Document Specialists to assist you with the preparation of your petition for summary administration and related probate documents, we have assembled some frequently asked questions that may help you with your research. Contact us at anytime by phone or by using the contact form at the bottom of this page.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)
What is a Florida Summary Administration Probate Process?
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 court will not appoint a personal representative for the estate. (Not to be confused with a personal representative named in a will.)
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 to be involved. Florida judges sign numerous orders for summary administration each year prepared and filed by pro se parties who did not hire a probate attorney.
What if I Don’t File the Correct Forms and Proposed Orders?
The probate clerk in your circuit court usually uses a summary administration checklist. This probate intake checklist may vary somewhat from county to county. 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. That why it’s always a good idea to read the clerk of court’s website in order to find out if their probate judges have any local procedures or administrative orders that you need to be concerned about.
The probate clerk will compare your petition for summary administration and its supporting documents, proposed order of summary administration, and all of your other probate forms and documents against their summary administration 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 is possible that it could be rejected and returned to you without further explanation. Probate 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 a Florida petition for summary administration, you need to determine if the estate of the decedent is eligible. To qualify for a Florida summary administration:
- 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; or
- The decedent has been dead for two or more years prior to the filing of the petition for summary administration; and
- If the decedent left a will, it does not direct administration as required by chapter 733 of the Florida statutes. If the decedent’s will directs a formal administration of probate, the option of filing a summary administration without an attorney is no longer an option.
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. This is typically filed in the county where the decedent resided at the time of his/her death. The Petition for 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.
I have the original will, what do I do with it?
Florida Statute 732.901 directs that the custodian of a last will and testament must deposit the will with the clerk of court having venue of the estate of the decedent within 10 days after receiving information that the testator is dead.
When you deposit the will with the clerk, make sure you have a made a photocopy first for personal reference. Take a copy of the decedent’s death certificate with you to the clerk’s office for reference. The clerk will give you a receipt for the deposit of the will and a corresponding file number. It’s important that you keep the file number in a safe place as you will need it when you’re preparing your Petition for Summary Administration.
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(s) 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 or determining the status of homestead property. Processing time in the courts 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 (vacations, holidays, etc.). We have seen pro se parties receive signed orders in as little as a week after filing or as long as 7 months.
Are There any Potential Pitfalls?
Yes. Just because an estate qualifies for a summary administration, it is not necessarily your best course of action. There may be some circumstances in your particular matter that you did not anticipate. 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, life insurance policies, 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, homestead exemption complications, and foreclosure proceedings, to name a few. That’s why it’s always a good idea to consult with a Florida probate attorney to answer your legal questions and provide legal advice 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
Joinder, Waiver, and Consent Forms
Proposed Order Admitting Will to Probate
Affidavit of Heirs
Notice to Creditors
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 don’t require legal advice or representation, Florida Document Specialists can provide you with affordable clerical and procedural assistance in the preparation of your Florida petition for summary administration and the other documents that the court requires. If you’re ready to get started, you can complete our online summary administration questionnaire. The questionnaire provides us with the factual information that is needed to prepare your Petition for Florida Summary Administration.