Formal Administration begins with naming a Personal Representative (PR) to give the state away from a passed person. The PR is in charge of gathering all of the deceased’s estate properties, identifying estate creditors, paying the deceased’s final debts, taxes, and administrative expenses from the deceased’s assets, and after the probate process, transferring the assets to the appropriate beneficiaries.
If the dead has left a will, then the Personal Representative will request admission of the will to make sure that it was created properly under Florida law. If the will is created properly, then the PR follows the wishes in the will. If the person dies owing more than $75,000 of assets and the heirs want /need to open a probate before two years has passed. This is when formal administration is done. Formal administration is a process closely seen over by a judge. The attorney takes the process through various stages with the Personal Representative. This process must be done when the assets of the estate reach the $75,000 threshold, but not all assets are included in the estate.
In the state of Florida, there are several stages to go though:
Opening the Estate for the Florida Probate: The attorney that is hired by the heir gathers all the information needed and then files a Petition for Administration with supported documents to the Florida Probate Court. Once there is a case number, then the estate is officially ‘opened.’ Once the judge reviews the files and issues the formal Letter of Administration, then the next step happens.
Administering the Probate Estate: Under the guidance of the attorney, the PR gets information to:
- Inventory assets.
- Notify creditors.
- Pay said creditors or challenge them (creditors have 3 months to file a claim once a notice is put in the newspaper).
- Collects any debt owed.
- Maintain assets during the process.
- Invest in assets as needed.
- Identify and notify all beneficiaries.
- Convert certain things to cash.
- Oversee the tax filing.
Closing the Probate Estate: When the time expires for the creditors to submit claims, all the other expenses have been paid, and the items have been gathered and taxes filed, then the attorney files a petition with the judge to close the estate. The judge will then sign an Order of Discharge (if all information is correct), which releases the PR from their duty and brings the proceeding to a conclusion. Then the assets are distributed to the various heirs in accordance with the person’s will.
Summary Administration is a type of probate that is used to administer estates with assets totaling less than $75,000 or of the decedent has been gone for greater than two years. In this, there is no Personal Representative or executor of the estate. For summary administration to be complete, a petition is submitted to the Court to direct all the allocation of the estate to those entitled under a will or with the law with all the necessary supporting documents.
If the court approves the petition, then an Order of Summary Administration directing the assets to be allocated to the correct people will happen. If the deceased died with a valid will, then everything goes to who it was instructed to go to. If the person died without a valid will, then the Florida intestacy law determines how everything is divided.
Since summary administration is after two years, creditor claims do not need to be addressed. In the state of Florida, there is a two-year non-claim provision that bars claims that are not filed by the creditors within two years. Sometimes, the window for creditors can be cut down even more, allowing only three or four months for a creditor to have a claim. This is achieved by a Notice to Creditors, subject to s. 733.2121, which notifies all possible creditors that an order of summary administration has been entered. This notice shall specify the total value of the estate, as well as the names and addresses of those to whom the order has been assigned. If a Notice to Creditors has been published and the creditors do not bring their claims up within three months, then they will have them forever barred for failing to meet a deadline.
Disposition without Administration
This is technically not a form of probate, but it is possible under extremely limited circumstances. This clause is used to reimburse a person who has paid the final expenses of the dead person.
Section 735.301, Florida Statutes, provides for the eligibility for the disposition of personal property without administration. The required documents that ate need include a valid death certificate, signed and notarized approval from legitimate descendants, the final will if it exists, as well as other information.
The disposition without administration process involves the person who paid funeral and/or final medical bills of the decedent getting reimbursed using the assets in the decedent’s estate. Heirs or beneficiaries can only benefit from this process if:
- The decedent did not leave behind any real estate or real property.
- The total amount of expenses is lesser in value compared to the value of the decedent’s assets.
- Personal property is exempt from claims by creditors.
If you need legal assistance from an attorney to help in Panama City or the surrounding areas, contact The Tabbaa Firm for a consultation.
(Updated Sept 2023)