Probate and Estate Administration

Florida probate proceedings vary in length and expense. These depend on a variety of factors. There are different methods of probate proceedings also. Each of these different types of proceedings are dependant upon the nature of the assets of the deceased at the time of death and the total dollar value of the assets.

A brief description of each of the basic types of Florida probate proceedings that Thomas G. Pye, Esquire of the Pye Law Firm, PA practices follow.

1. Formal Administration

The Last Will and Testament is admitted to probate and Letters of Administration are issued. Creditors are served with the Notice to Creditors. The Creditor may in turn file a Statement of Claim. Beneficiaries are served with a Notice of Administration alerting them that they may challenge the venue or the Last Will.

Formal Administration also allows for a Petition to Determine Homestead which is necessary if the decedent was on Medicaid and owns real property, as their home, or if there are other creditors from which the home requires protection.

2. Summary Administration

Summary Administration is allowable when one of the following criteria are met. Assets in the gross estate are less than $75,000, and the petitioner swears that there are no creditors, or has made prior provisions for the payment of creditors or the decedent has been dead for two or more years.

This type of probate results in an Order of Summary Administration ordering that all assets be delivered to the beneficiaries. One must be careful that all assets are included, because once the Order of Summary Administration has been signed, it is generally not possible to reopen the proceeding.

3. Small Estate Administration

No administration shall be required or formal proceedings instituted upon the estate of a decedent leaving only personal property exempt under the provisions of s. 732.402, personal property exempt from the claims of creditors under the Constitution of Florida, and nonexempt personal property the value of which does not exceed the sum of the amount of preferred funeral expenses and reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses of the last 60 days of the last illness.

Upon informal application by affidavit, letter, or otherwise by any interested party, and if the court is satisfied that subsection (1) is applicable, the court, by letter or other writing under the seal of the court, may authorize the payment, transfer, or disposition of the personal property, tangible or intangible, belonging to the decedent to those persons entitled. Any person, firm, or corporation paying, delivering, or transferring property under the authorization shall be forever discharged from liability thereon

4. Ancillary Administration

If a nonresident of this state dies leaving assets in this state, credits due from residents in this state, or liens on property in this state, a personal representative specifically designated in the decedent's will to administer the Florida property shall be entitled to have ancillary letters issued, if qualified to act in Florida.

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