Summary Administration is a procedure available for the administration of estates under $75,000 or when the decedent has been dead for more than two years. It avoids the necessity of the appointment of a personal representative. It is accomplished by petitioning the Court to order the distribution of the decedent’s assets to those entitled to it under the Will or under law. If the Court deems the petition to be proper, it will issue an Order of Summary Administration which authorizes the assets to be distributed to the proper beneficiaries.
If you qualify and elect to use Summary Administration, the process becomes very simplified. Formal administration takes a minimum of 5 months to complete under Florida law and it is not uncommon for routine probate estates to last a year or more. A summary administration proceeding can be completed in a matter of months. This is because a personal representative does not have to be appointed, creditors do not have to be notified and there is no three month claims period. The court simply issues an order stating who is entitled to distribution of the decedent's probate estate.
If the estate qualifies for Summary Administration because its value is less than $75,000, then all claims or indebtedness of the estate must have been paid or provisions for payment have been made. Therefore, in the Petition for Summary Administration, you will be certifying to the Court that you know of no debts owed by the decedent that have not already been paid or provisions for payment have been made. This is important because when an Order of Summary Administration is issued, the petitioner becomes personally liable for all lawful claims and demands against the estate of the decedent. However, this liability cannot exceed the gross value of the estate property actually received by the petitioner.
Larger estates can qualify for Summary Administration if the decedent has been dead for at least 2 years. Since the statute of limitations for creditors to file a claim against a decedent's estate is 2 years, there is no need for the claims procedure of formal administration.
Because of the simplicity and much shorter process, the expenses of summary administration are considerably less than those of formal administration. The attorney's fee is reduced. There is no personal representative to pay a fee to, and there are no costs to publish notices to creditors.
For more information about the Summary Administration process in Florida click here.