If you are involved in a Florida probate case, you may be concerned with the length of time that a probate administration will take from start to finish. Many factors can affect the length of a Florida probate administration. The number of creditors, type of administration, number of beneficiaries, the court, and litigation all have an effect on the length of a probate administration. It is important to keep in contact with your Florida probate attorney while a probate case is pending to make sure that you are aware of the timelines.
The type of administration will affect the duration of a probate case.
In Florida, there are two types of probate administrations, summary administration or formal administration. The procedure for the type of probate administration determines the duration of the probate administration. Summary administrations are typically much shorter than a formal administration, due to the abbreviated nature under Florida law. Formal administrations are longer than summary administrations due to the additional requirements under Florida law in order to complete the administration. Due to the asset value restriction under section 735.231, Florida Statutes, the probate case that you are involved in may be required to be conducted as a formal administration. On the other hand, even if the estate exceeds the asset limit, a summary might be possible depending on how long ago the decedent passed away.
Duration of a Florida summary administration
The duration of a Florida summary administration typically depends upon whether there are creditors of the estate and whether the beneficiaries or heirs get along well. If the decedent (person who passed away) died more than 2 years before the probate case is opened, all creditors’ claims are barred. In summary administrations where the decedent has been dead for more than 2 years, the duration of the case is typically shorter because creditors do not need to be noticed. In a case like this, if all the beneficiaries of the estate sign waivers, the summary administration may be completed within a 3-4 weeks, as a conservative estimate.
Another instance that affects the duration of a summary administration in Florida is the number of beneficiaries and whether they get along and whether they check their mail. In a Florida summary administration, all interested persons are required to received formal notice of the petition for summary administration. If an interested person does not check his or her mail and the formal notice is left at the post office waiting for the interested person to pick it up, this takes additional time. If the interested person never picks up the mail, the USPS will deliver it back to our office, which takes additional time. Problems with service of formal notice can add weeks to a summary administration and are typically the leading cause of delays in a summary administration case.
Typically we cannot provide exact times to our clients for the duration of a summary administration. We always strive to conduct our probate administrations in the most efficient way possible, but sometimes unforeseen events occur, increasing the duration of the case. In straightforward cases with creditors, a summary administration can take 3-4 months to complete, once all notices are provided and the time period for objections and filing of statements of claim have elapsed. If the decedent passed away more than 2 years before the probate is filed, then the case can take as short as 3-4 weeks to completion, depending on whether beneficiaries are willing to sign waivers. Every probate administration is unique, so your attorney will be able to better able to assess your case and let you know what obstacles may come up to length its duration.
Duration of formal probate administrations in Florida.
Formal probate administrations in Florida typically take much longer from start to finish than a summary administration. This is due to the additional documents that are filed in the case and the length of time that interested persons are entitled to object to those documents. If a formal administration is relatively simple, with all beneficiaries in agreement and no creditors, a personal representative can move through the formal administration relatively expediently. Additionally, because a personal representative is empowered to sell property of the estate, the property of the estate may be distributed or sold faster than it can be in a summary administration. However, despite this ability, we typically tell our clients that a formal administration will likely take 6 months or longer to complete.
The increased duration of a formal administration can have several causes. First, there are a greater number of documents that are required to be filed in the case in a formal administration. Additional documents that need to be filed in a formal administration include an oath of personal representative, inventory, petition for discharge, and final estate accounting. Each of these documents need to sent to interested persons in the case. After noticing the interested persons, each person has an opportunity to object to the document, usually within 20 days after receiving the document. All of these notices take time to complete, especially if there are issues with a person not picking up his or her mail from the post office.
Another issue with a formal administration is that creditors typically need to be noticed in the case. A good practice in any probate administration where there may be creditors outstanding is to publish a notice to creditors in a local paper, like the Tampa Bay Times or Business Observer. After publishing the notice to creditors, any creditor of the decedent has three months to file a statement of claim in the probate case pursuant to section 733.702, Florida Statutes. Therefore, there is a three month time period built into most formal administrations in Florida.
Formal probate administrations also typically involve more complex probate estates. The more complex the estate, the more time that may be required to properly administer the estate. It is always important the the personal representative take his or her time to gather all of the assets of the estate and make sure to administer the estate efficiently in compliance with applicable law.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.
If you need to open probate for a loved one’s estate in Florida, contact us today to schedule a free consultation. During our consultation, one of our attorneys will explain the probate administration process and may be able to give you an estimate of the potential duration of the probate case. Our attorney will point out any issues that may extend the duration of the probate or may cause problems down the line. We always strive to make the probate administration process as streamlined and efficient as possible.
Request your free consultation today!