Summary Administration to Streamline the Process of Probate


A probate proceeding is the legal process of transferring a descendent’s assets to their beneficiaries or rightful heirs. There are two types of probate actions in the State of Florida. A Formal Administration is the traditional and most common type of probate. Summary Administration is a simplified and streamlined version of probate for the distribution of a descendent’s estate that does not require a court appointed personal representative. A Summary Administration is appropriate for either of the following circumstances, unless the deceased has specified in his Will that he wishes for a Formal Administration of probate to take place after his death;

  • The estate must have a value of less than $75,000 in assets, not including the worth of descendent’s home.

Or,

  • It has been at least two years since the deceased has passed, regardless of the value of the assets. After two years, from the date of death, creditor claims are unenforceable.

A Summary Administration is initiated when an individual petitions the court. This can be a beneficiary, an heir or a person directed by the Will to be the representative. If there is a remaining spouse, the petitioner requires the spouse’s verification and approval. The person petitioning the court must make a good faith inquiry to locate any creditors, so that they can make a claim against the estate. The creditors, as well as anyone named in the Will, are to receive a copy of the court petition. The petition lists the known property, assets and debts, with the value of each asset and debt. If there is a Will, the beneficiaries of each asset are named. The petition includes a plan for distributing the assets and paying the creditors. Once the court approves the petition, an Order of Summary Administration is issued, which will release the assets for distribution.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Summary Administration

The benefits of a Summary Administration is that it takes significantly less time to close the estate and it is cost effective due to reduced court costs. However, the petitioner must be confident that all creditors have been identified, as after the estate is closed, unknown creditors may reopen the case for up to two years after the date of death. If this occurs, the beneficiaries may be liable for those debts up to the value of their settlement. Another consideration is that the petitioner for a Summary Administration is not given the same legal rights as a court appointed personal representative, regarding administration of the estate. A petitioner does not have the legal right to bank information, discussions with the Internal Revenue Service regarding tax liens or other legal matters. In the event of any of these complexities, a Summary Administration is not appropriate. Also, estate disputes can occur between beneficiaries and their heirs that can compromise a Summary Administration.

Following the death of a loved one, the counsel of an experienced probate attorney is invaluable in determining the right path. Attorneys Richard W. Taylor and Michael P. Nordman are lifelong Volusia County residents, each with family in the county for over three generations. Both partners pride themselves as being zealous advocates in protecting their clients’ interests in or out of the courtroom. The law office of Taylor and Nordman, P.A., has the knowledge and dedication to assist you with estate matters and can lessen the stress of the probate process. Call our office today at (386) 734-2558.