Many Floridians don't realize that a family member or other interested person is allowed to settle an estate. It is a myth that an attorney must be involved in every estate. If an estate is small enough to qualify for the Summary Administration of Estate process; or is even smaller and qualifies for Disposition without Administration a family member or personal representative may be able to handle the paperwork pro se.
It is common for someone to pass away owning property in Florida, such as a second home or timeshare. Their primary estate may have already been settled in their home state, but the family then discovers that in order to sell or use the property in Florida they must go through probate in Florida. In our current depressed real estate market many second homes are valued well under $75,000. which allows an estate to be probated through Summary Administration of Estate.
Is there a will? Is the will self-proved?
If the decedent left a proper will or if there is no will but there is a surviving spouse, the paperwork is fairly straightforward. It is important to determine early on whether the will, if there is a will, was properly made – is self-proving. In Florida there is a separate document that is required, and nowadays is usually created at the same time as was the will, called a Self-Proving Affidavit. This affidavit is usually attached to the will at the time of signing and they are kept together until needed. The Self-Proving Affidavit verifies the validity of the will, and the identity of the witnesses.
Summary Administration of Estate
Summary Administration of Estate is generally available only if the value of the entire estate is valued at less than $75,000; and if the decedent’s debts are paid. The summary administration process is also available if the decedent passed away more than two years prior to filing the Petition for Summary Administration.
Florida Statute 735.203
(1) A petition for summary administration may be filed by any beneficiary or person nominated as personal representative in the decedent’s will offered for probate. The petition must be signed and verified by the surviving spouse, if any, and any beneficiaries except that the joinder in a petition for summary administration is not required of a beneficiary who will receive a full distributive share under the proposed distribution. However, formal notice of the petition must be served on a beneficiary not joining in the petition.
Disposition Without Administration
An alternative to the summary administration process is "Disposition
Without Administration." To use this process, the value of the estate
may not exceed the total of $6,000 in funeral expenses; and the amount
of all reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses incurred
in the last 60 days of the decedent’s final illness.
The purpose of this process is only to reimburse family members for out of pocket expenses, such as medical bills or funeral expenses. For example, if someone dies and leaves behind a bank account with $6000. in it, and had prepaid for all their own medical and funeral expenses, this process will not allow a family member to access the funds in the bank.
For document preparation assistance for Summary Administration of Estate please visit our Document Preparation Services page. Or call: 800-515-0496.
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