Copyright © 2019, The Law Office of Alain Roman, PLLC
Summary Administration in Florida is a simplified probate process used to provide efficiency in small estates and when the person has been dead for over two years and all creditors of the deceased are barred.
According to Section 735.201 of the Florida Statutes, summary administration in Florida can be done if the person has been deceased for over two years or if the assets are less than $75,000.
If the person has been dead for over two years then there is no cap in the amount of assets of the administration.
The probate process provides a vehicle for creditors of the deceased to be able to recover money owed to them after the person has passed away. However in Florida, creditors have two years to bring any claims against the deceased person. After two years all creditors are barred against bringing any further claims.
Summary administration can be done because the Probate Court does not have to deal with all the formalities and notices that must be given to creditors during a formal administration.
The first major difference between a summary administration and a formal administration in Florida is the amount of time it takes to close out the administration.
Summary administration usually are able to be closed between 1-2 months. Formal administration will take at a minimum 6 months in order to be able to close out the estate administration.
Why is summary administration in Florida so much faster you may ask yourself? The reason for this is because if you qualify for summary administration, a lot of the formalities of the formal administration process are not done.
Summary administration is ideal when the deceased person had no creditors (i.e. people he or she owed money too), the only assets of the deceased person are exempt assets (protected against creditors), or if the deceased person has been dead for over two years and all the creditors are barred.
Another major difference in the summary administration process in Florida is that a personal representative is not appointed to administer the probate process. Since there is no assets to be administered and no creditors (in most situations) to deal with, the probate court can distribute the assets to the rightful beneficiaries.
Since the process is a lot faster, the cost of probate attorneys are usually lower compared to formal administration.
Most probate attorneys will charge a flat fee cost to help you file the petition for summary administration in Florida. The filing fees in the summary administration are also lower, approximately $346 in Miami-Dade County and other counties as well.
Summary Administration in Florida is ideal when the deceased person had no creditors. This is specially true when the deceased person has been dead for less than two years.
Florida has a two-year statute of limitations for creditors to bring a claim against a deceased person. After two years, all creditor claims are barred and the probate assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries without having to go through the formal notice of creditor requirement.
If the person has been dead for less than two years and the assets are less than $75,000, the petitioner in the Summary Administration can either file a Notice to Creditors to bar any future creditors from bringing claims or can file an Affidavit where they remain personally liable for any claims brought before the two year mark. This only applies to the extent that the property distributed is not exempt property (i.e. Homestead Property).
If you know that the deceased person had a lot of creditors then summary administration might not be the best vehicle to administer the deceased assets.
Under the Petition for Summary Administration, you as the Petitioner must certify that you have made a diligent search and inquiry as to any known or reasonable ascertainable creditors and either a) the creditors are barred; b) the estate is not indebted; or c) that if the estate is indebted that provisions for payments of the debts are outlined.
In fact if there are several creditors that file claims against the estate, some probate judges will require you to convert the probate proceedings from summary to formal administration. An experience probate attorney can help you make this determination.
Exempt property is not counted towards the $75,000 cap in the Florida summary administration proceedings.
The most common exempt property under Section 732.402 include household furniture, furnishing and appliances in the decedent’s home up to a value of $20,000 and two motor vehicles.
For Florida Homestead Property, a Petition to Determine Homestead Status of Real Property is filed contemporaneously with the Petition for Summary Administration. The Petition to Determine Homestead is typically accompanied by a property tax bill and an affidavit by a disinherited person stating under oath that the deceased person resided in the property and it was their homestead.
Once the court makes a determination that the property is the deceased person’s Homestead Property, the Probate Court will enter an Order Determining Homestead Status of Real Property and the property will pass to the beneficiaries free of any creditor claims.
A similar process is done for the exempt property. A Petition Determining Exempt Property is filed with the Probate Court and the Court will enter an Order determining its status.
There are two basic models for a Miami probate attorney to charge his or her attorney’s fees: Flat Fee or Hourly.
There is not one best method, in some situations the flat fee will be more convenient for the client, in other situations the hourly model will be more cost effective.
When quoting a flat fee, the probate attorney will first examine the complexity of the summary administration. Factors that probate attorneys examine in order to quote a flat fee include:
Depending on the complexity of the summary administration, the typical going rate for flat fees of Miami probate attorneys for a summary administration in Miami-Dade County is anywhere between $1,000 and $2,500, plus the cost involved in the Miami-Dade Probate Court.
Most Miami probate attorney charge between $250 an hour to $450 an hour depending on the experience of the probate attorney.
Summary Administration takes a lot less time than a formal administration. Typically, all the documents needed like the Petition for Summary Administration are filed in one batch. Once the Miami-Dade Probate Court ascertains that all the information is correct and there are no issues, then a Miami-Dade Probate Judge will enter an order for the distribution of the assets.
According to Florida Probate Rule 5.530, the Petition for Summary Administration must be verified and must contain the following information:
(1) a statement of the interest of each petitioner, each petitioner’s name and address, and the name and office address of each petitioner’s attorney;
(2) the name and last known address of the decedent, last 4 digits of the decedent’s social security number, date and place of death of the decedent, and state and county of the decedent’s domicile;
(3) so far as is known, the names and addresses of the surviving spouse, if any, and the beneficiaries and their relationship to the decedent and the year of birth of any who are minors;
(4) a statement showing venue;
(5) a statement whether domiciliary or principal proceedings are pending in another state or country, if known, and the name and address of the foreign personal representative and the court issuing letters;
(6) a statement that the decedent’s will, if any, does not direct administration as required by chapter 733, Florida Statutes;
(7) a statement that the value of the entire estate subject to administration in this state, less the value of property exempt from the claims of creditors, does not exceed $75,000 or that the decedent has been dead for more than 2 years;
(8) a description of all assets in the estate and the estimated value of each, and a separate description of any protected homestead and exempt property;
(9) a statement either:
(A) that all creditors’ claims are barred or
(B) that a diligent search and reasonable inquiry for any known or reasonably ascertainable creditors has been made and one of the following:
(i) A statement that the estate is not indebted.
(ii) The name and address of each creditor, the nature of the debt, the amount of the debt and whether the amount is estimated or exact, and when the debt is due. If provision for payment of the debt has been made other than for full payment in the proposed order of distribution, the following information must be shown:
(a) The name of the person who will pay the debt.
(b) The creditor’s written consent for substitution or assumption of the debt by another person.
(c) The amount to be paid if the debt has been compromised.
(d) The terms for payment and any limitations on the liability of the person paying the debt.
(10) in an intestate estate, a statement that after the exercise of reasonable diligence each petitioner is unaware of any unrevoked wills or codicils;
(11) in a testate estate, a statement identifying all unrevoked wills and codicils being presented for probate, and a statement that each petitioner is unaware of any other unrevoked will or codicil; and
(12) a schedule of proposed distribution of all probate assets and the person to whom each asset is to be distributed.
I have a lot of experience with the summary administration in Miami-Dade County and other counties throughout Florida. I want to help you petition for the summary administration of your loved one.
Contact me at (305) 489-1415 or complete the form to reach my office. If you have any questions or concerns do not hesitate to reach out, I am always happy to answer any questions you may have, whether you end up retaining my firm or not.