Filing Forms for Florida Summary Administration
You Have Nonlawyer Options
Are you looking for the proper court forms to file a Florida Summary Administration? If you’ve been researching, you probably already know that:
1. You need to file forms with the court for a “Summary Administration”, in order to distribute assets from an estate, and you’ve been trying to find the correct summary administration forms to use and an affordable and stress-free way of preparing and filing them with the court.
2. Probate attorneys in Florida charge a lot of money to type up summary administration forms . A summary administration is supposed to be a simplified form of probate, not something that breaks the bank!
3. Accomplishing a Florida summary administration involves more than just, “one form”, and the more you read, the more complicated and intimidating the summary administration process seems.
4. You’ve found nation-wide, “we-do-it-all“, legal forms websites that promise simple and cheap solutions for downloading summary administration forms, but you soon realize that they are only computers on auto-pilot, and no one will ever be there to pick up the phone when you call.
We have a solution.
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 also assist out-of-state customers by conducting business by telephone, email and postal mail. In fact, about half of our customers reside outside of Florida and need assistance preparing ancillary summary administration forms for departed family members who owned property in Florida.
If you don’t require legal advice or representation, we may be your best option, because our niche services are unique and customer focused. We don’t 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 assist you in accomplishing your goal of getting an order of summary administration.
Our services include:
- Preparation of your petition for summary administration, petition for determination of homestead status, and any other forms required by the court;
- 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;
- Filing your case for you with any of Florida’s circuit courts, and weekly status checks of your court docket;
- Preparation of any additional summary administration forms or other forms requested by the court without extra charges, and;
- Complete accessibility to our staff by telephone and email until your case has concluded.
How much does it cost?
We charge a flat fee of $495 for our services. Court filing fees are not included.
But I also need summary administration forms prepared to transfer Florida homestead property. That costs extra, right?
No. We charge a flat fee of $495 for our services. Everything is included.
Are there court filing fees?
Yes. To file a Florida summary administration in Florida for an estate valued at $1000 or more, the filing fee is around $345. Ancillary proceedings will cost around $400.
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.
SOME FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE SUMMARY ADMINISTRATION PROCESS 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 read on the Internet, Florida courts will accept 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. Remember, there is no “Personal Representative” in a summary administration. A personal representative is only appointed in a formal administration.
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?
No, you’ll need to open a bank account for the estate, and you can’t do that without having, “Letters of Administration”, which is not a part of a summary administration. You’ll have to hire an attorney to open a formal administration.
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 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.
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 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 if the decedent has been dead for over two years?
Where do I start?
To begin a Florida summary administration, the petitioner obtains the correct 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 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 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. There is no cost for depositing a will with the clerk. You cannot deposit a will with the clerk if the party is not deceased.
How do I learn how 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. 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. 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 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 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 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;
Oath of Witness;
Affidavit of Heirs;
Notice to Creditors;
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 options in the form of clerical and procedural assistance. 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.