The Types of Probate in Florida

Mon, Mar 5, 2012


The Types of Probate in FloridaWhen someone dies, his or her remaining estate is handled through a process called probate. Probate deals with the debts, assets, and other remaining situations of someone’s estate. It usually works together with the deceased’s will and with any claims from creditors or other interested parties, all the while following the rules and procedures set up by Florida law. It involves filing paperwork such as death certificates, funeral expenses, information about assets and debts, etc. Though similar paperwork is required for most types of probate, the process and rules do differ. The four types of Florida probate are:


Summary Administration

The summary administration type of probate occurs when someone’s estate is less than $75,000 and/or the person has been deceased for more than two years. This amount does not include the homesteaded property, though. This is an important point, as sometimes the estate still qualifies for summary administration when it seems like it should not. Other rules for this type of probate are that the estate must not have any debts, or the debts must meet certain qualifications. The debt qualifications include that the debt is in some way exempt or excluded or that arrangements of some kind have been made to take care of it. In addition, a personal representative is not needed. Summary administration probate can happen fairly quickly if all interested parties sign off on the arrangements and probate petition in a timely fashion.


Formal Administration

The formal administration type of probate covers typically covers those estates over $75,000, with the homestead property excluded. Formal administration probate uses a personal representative and requires many more steps than a summary administration, as debts and assets need to be more closely handled and investigated. Thus, formal probate administrations take much longer to complete and involve more paperwork.


Ancillary Administration

The ancillary administration type of probate occurs when someone’s estate is in another state, but the deceased still had property in Florida. The amount of the estate and the existence of debts help determine if an ancillary administration follows the summary or formal administration procedures.


Disposition Without Administration

Some Florida probate cases qualify for disposition without administration. This simplified probate process takes less time and costs less money than a summary or formal administration probate case. The estate must be very small. In fact, the assets must be less than the funeral expenses (up to $6,000) and any hospital/medical bills that accumulated from the death or last recent illness (the last 60 days). There are rules about the amount and types of property and assets that this type of estate can have and keep. Remaining assets must be minimal and must be exempt from creditors. An Internet search will bring up forms for this type of probate. Here is a link to Sarasota County’s form. A quick look shows you that there are specific rules and procedures, and that you want to be really sure the estate qualifies for this type of probate.

The Florida Bar has a detailed PDF document that discusses the Florida Probate Rules. It is derived from Chapters 731–735 of the Florida State Statutes. After taking a look, you will see there any many detailed rules for probate proceedings. This brings many questions to light for those facing a probate situation. Even if you feel the probate situation is straight forward, you will often find that the requirements and rules can be overwhelming without help from a qualified attorney. The Florida Bar suggests everyone at least consults with an attorney. This is why SmithLaw offers a free consultation to help answer your specific probate questions.

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