Petition for Summary Administration Florida Probate Forms

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Filing a Florida Summary Administration Probate Pro Se
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Are you looking for Florida summary administration forms to resolve the estate of a loved one?  If you’ve been researching your options, you probably already know that:

1.  In order to distribute assets from an estate, you need to file probate forms with the circuit court for a “Summary Administration”.  You’ve been trying to find the correct summary administration forms to use and the least stressful and most affordable way of preparing and filing them with the court.

2.  Probate attorneys in Florida charge a lot of money to type up summary administration probate forms.  A summary administration is supposed to be a simplified form of probate, not something that breaks the bank.  Sometimes, after legal fees, there isn’t much left for the family.

3.  Filing a Florida summary administration case involves more than just, “a summary administration form”, and the more you read, the more complicated and intimidating the summary administration process seems to be. 

4.  You’ve found  the “we-do-it-all” legal forms websites that promise simple and cheap solutions for downloading the proper forms for a Florida summary administration, but you soon realize that they are only robots, and no one will ever be there to pick up the phone and answer your questions.

We offer a flat-fee solution for summary administration document preparation, electronic filing, and the preparation and submission of proposed orders to your judge.

Florida Document Specialists is a family owned and operated Florida business that is A+ rated, 5-Star reviewed, and accredited by the Central Florida Better Business Bureau.  We  offer a nonlawyer summary administration preparation and filing service for all 67 counties in Florida.   We can also help out-of-state customers  who need assistance preparing ancillary summary administration forms for decedents who owned property in Florida.

If you don’t require legal advice or representation, our  unique and customer focused solution may be your best option.  We don’t just sell summary administration or probate forms, and our document preparation processes are not automated.  That means you’ll work with a real person who will keep you updated every step of the way.   We provide a complete, flat-fee solution to help you accomplish your goal of obtaining an order of summary administration and/or an order to determine status of homestead property.

Our services include:

  • Preparation of your petition for summary administration, petition for determination of homestead status, and all other forms required by the court;
  • We prepare the probate documents for both testate (with a will) and intestate (without a will) cases.
  • Preparation of your proposed orders for the judge’s signature.  This includes the order of summary administration, order admitting will to probate, and the order to transfer homestead property;
  • Preparation of documents for an ancillary Florida summary administration for our out-of-state customers whose family member owned property in Florida;
  • Remote Online Notarization (RON).  You can sign and notarize your documents online with one of our certified notaries from the comfort of your home.  No extra fees.
  • Filing your case for you with with the court and weekly status checks of your court docket;
  • Complete accessibility to your document technician by telephone and email for clerical and procedural assistance until your case has finalized.
  • We are not qualified to provide legal advice, and none will be given.

How much does it cost?

Our flat fee is $895.  Court filing fees are not included.  Filing fees are typically $345 for estates valued at $1000 or more.

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, we have assembled some frequently asked questions that may help you with your research.  Contact us at any time by phone or by using the contact form at the bottom of this page.  Remember, we are not attorneys, so we cannot give you legal advice.  If you’d like to use or services, our summary administration intake questionnaire can be completed by clicking HERE.

Petition for Summary Administration FloridaFrequently Asked Questions FAQ about Summary Administration in Florida

What is Florida summary administration?  Is it probate?

Yes.  Probate is a process supervised by the circuit court that identifies a decedent’s debts and distributes the decedent’s assets to creditors or beneficiaries of the decedent’s estate.

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 (PR).

What are some differences between a formal administration and a summary administration of probate?

  • A “Personal Representative” is not appointed in a summary administration;
  • You have to know with certainty the assets of the decedent and list them in your petition with specificity; and
  • Florida law requires that you hire a licensed attorney to open a formal administration.

Can I  file a summary administration in Florida without hiring an attorney?

Yes.  Despite what you may have been told, you can file a petition for summary administration from a pro se (self-represented) party without requiring a lawyer to be involved as long as you have standing to file the petition.

But I read online that unless the personal representative is the only interested party, an attorney is required to file a petition for summary administration.  Is this true?

No.  There is no, “personal representative” in a summary administration.   A personal representative is appointed by a judge in a formal administration of probate, and “letters of administration” are issued to that person to act on behalf of the estate with the authority of the court.

The decedent died without a last will (intestate).  How do I figure out how the assets of the estate will be divided?

When a Florida resident dies intestate – meaning without a proper will or living trust, their assets will be distributed according to the intestate succession laws of the State of Florida.   There is a handy, online Florida Intestacy Evaluator available that may be of use to you.

I have checks that are made out to, “The Estate of…..”, and I want to cash them,  Will I be able to do this with a summary administration?

Perhaps.  If you already have the checks made out to an estate, you’ll have to contact the bank, insurance company, etc., and ask them if they would be willing to cancel the checks and wait for an order of summary administration from the judge.  When the holder of the assets receives the court order, they will then have the authority to reissue the checks to you instead of the estate.

If that is not possible, the only way to cash checks made out to an estate would be to open an estate bank account.  To do that, a formal administration (and an attorney) is required.

I don’t know the account numbers and other information regarding the decedent’s assets, is this a problem?

It could be a big problem, and we run into this situation frequently.   Sometimes you know that the decedent had bank accounts, stock accounts, etc., but you don’t have complete information, i.e. the account numbers or the balance (value) of the account(s).  In a summary administration, the petitioner must describe the probate assets with specificity.  In a summary administration, “letters of administration” are not issued, as there is no personal representative to issue them to.  In other words, the pro se petitioner in a summary administration does not have the authority to demand additional information from the institutions that are holding the assets, and they are not going to tell you if you ask.  If you have the complete account numbers, or at least the last 4 digits, and have an exact or general idea of the value of the accounts, you’re probably in good shape, but not always.  Sometimes you can find all of the information you need by looking through the decedents papers and old mail.   If you don’t have any information, a summary administration is probably not going to work for you.  This situation typically only applies to bank accounts, stock accounts, insurance policies, retirement accounts, etc.  Specific information regarding real property (homestead, real estate, etc.) is easily found online through the clerk of court.

What if I don’t file the correct summary administration forms and proposed orders?

If you intend to prepare and file a summary administration on your own, you should focus on satisfying the requirements of the Florida statutes and your court’s local requirements.  It’s always a good idea to read the websites associated with the clerk of court and the judicial circuit you’re filing in, to find out if their probate judges have any local procedures or administrative orders that you need to be concerned about.  The probate clerk usually relies on a summary administration checklist, and these summary administration and homestead checklists are often available online for download.

The court will compare your petition for summary administration and associated Florida probate forms against their intake checklist.  If something is wrong with your  paperwork, it is possible that it could be rejected and returned to you without further explanation.  Generally speaking, probate clerks are not permitted to tell you what you are missing or how to correct your mistakes.  In some instances, a kind clerk or pro se coordinator may offer some assistance.   Be very polite and gracious if they do, because this is the exception, not the rule.

Is the estate eligible for a 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 Last Will and Testament, 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.

Does this mean a ten-million dollar estate can be probated with a summary administration, and no lawyer, if the decedent has been dead for over two years?

Yes.  Whether that is in your best interest or not is up to you.

Where do I start?

To begin a Florida summary administration, the petitioner must obtain the correct Florida summary administration forms and file a petition for summary administration with the circuit court that has jurisdiction over the estate.  The summary administration is typically filed in the county where the decedent resided at the time of death.  If the decedent did not live in Florida, the petition is usually filed in the county where the decedent owned real property.  The petition for  summary administration may be filed by any beneficiary or by a person nominated as a personal representative by the decedent in their will, but it must be verified and signed by the surviving spouse, if any.

I have the decedent’s original will, what should 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 (or a quality scan) first for your records.  Take a copy of the decedent’s death certificate with you to the clerk’s office, as they may want to look at it.  The clerk will give you a receipt for the deposit of the will and a corresponding file number.  It is important that you keep the receipt/file number in a safe place, as you will need it when you prepare your petition for summary administration.  There is no cost for depositing a will with the clerk.  You cannot deposit or “file” a will with the probate clerk until the testator is deceased.

Where can I learn to prepare summary administration forms?

Florida statutes specify what information must be included in a petition for summary administration and a petition to determine the status of homestead property.  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.

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 orders 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 and as long as 7 months.  The procedures that Florida Courts use for getting proposed orders before a probate judge varies widely.

Are there any potential pitfalls with a summary administration?

Yes.  Just because an estate qualifies for a summary administration, it may not necessarily your best course of action.  There may be 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 in a formal administration.

You may think that the estate is valued at $75,000 or less, but there may be bank accounts, stock accounts, life insurance policies, annuities, or other assets that you aren’t even aware of.  You will not have the authority to inquire about the existence of additional assets, and banks and other institutions have no responsibility to disclose them to you.

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, beneficiaries who are minors, lawsuits, homestead and 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.

I’ve heard that I need a copy of a paid funeral bill, is this true?

Yes.  In most cases where the decedent has been dead for less than two years, the court will require proof that the funeral and final arrangements have been paid for.  Some courts require proof of payment for the last 6-months of medical expenses.

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;
Proposed Order Admitting Will to Probate;
Oath of Witness;
Affidavit of Heirs;
Notice to Creditors;
Formal Notice;
Affidavit Concerning Criminal History; and
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. If you’re ready to get started, and you want to hire us to prepare your summary administration documents, you are invited to complete our online summary administration questionnaire by clicking the button below.   The questionnaire provides us with the factual information that is needed to prepare your petition for summary administration and the rest of the various summary administration forms.