Small Estate Probate Administration
The question is not whether or not you need to do probate after someone passes away, the question is “How do I do probate?” Anytime a person passes away owning assets, someone must oversee the distribution of assets and payment of bills, which is usually supervised the by the court. If your loved one leaves a small probate estate with a compensable value under $75,000, we can assist you with the probate process in order to proceed with it as efficiently as possible.
When you lose a loved one, carrying out their final wishes can be difficult. If your family member has left behind even a modest estate, some assets require that a court order the distribution of the assets. Probate is governed by the Florida Statutes and the Florida Probate Rules. If you need to open a probate due to the passing of a loved one, you should consult with an attorney for advice on how to proceed and whether attorney representation is required. Sometimes, with a small estate under $75,000, you may not be required by law to hire an attorney to conduct the summary administration of the probate estate. However, it is always advisable to at least consult with an attorney in order to ensure that you are carrying out your loved one’s wishes in an efficient manner.
Probate in Florida is divided up into two different processes based upon the time since death, or the compensable assets in the probate estate: summary probate administration and formal probate administration. Summary administration is available when there is less than $75,000 in the value of assets required to be transferred through the probate court or if more than 2 years have passed since the decedent passed away. If a case qualifies for summary administration, a personal representative may be able to represent themselves in the probate court proceedings. Formal administration is required if the value of assets to be probated is over $75,000, and less than 2 years have passed since the date of death. If a case qualifies for formal administration, a personal representative must be represented by an attorney in the probate case. If you think your loved one’s estate qualifies for formal administration, we can also provide representation for the administration of large probate estates .
In a summary probate administration, the case proceeds at a faster pace than a formal administration, usually resulting in a distribution to beneficiaries or heirs and closure of the estate within a shorter period of time. Once the court enters an order for summary administration, the assets of the estate may be immediately distributed to the beneficiaries or heirs. Prior to the entry of the order for summary administration, the petitioner for the summary administration must serve a copy of the petition for summary administration that was filed with the court on the ascertainable creditors. Provisions for the payment of creditors are required to be included in the order for summary administration.
Even if the probate case you are involved in is a summary administration, it pays to be represented by an attorney in the proceedings. Being a petitioner in a summary administration can be quite a bit of work, and having an attorney to represent you during the process makes things less stressful and can save time. Also, in a summary administration, if any creditors are omitted from the order for summary administration, the creditor may have a claim against the person who petitioned for the order of summary administration. Under section 735.206 of the Florida Statutes, anyone who has received the decedent’s property under an order of summary administration is personally liable for a pro rata share of a creditor’s claim, to the extent of the value of the estate of the decedent that was received by each heir or beneficiary, that was not included in the order for summary administration. Therefore, it is important to make sure that the summary administration process is conducted with the detail required to ensure that there are no outstanding creditors who should have, but didn’t, receive notice in the probate estate.
We know what it’s like to lose a loved one, and we know what a difference it can make to have someone who cares on your side. Our attorneys are experienced with summary probate administrations and formal probate administrations. Contact us today to schedule your free 30-minute consultation now to determine if you need to begin probate, what your next steps should be, and what you can expect. If you have any idea of the compensable value of the assets in your loved one’s estate when you call, we may be able to tell you if the estate will qualify for summary administration or will require a formal administration.