Understanding The Kinds Of Probate Cases In Florida
Many people talk about probate, or probating a will or an estate, but they are not aware that there are actually different kinds of probate. Which is best for you depends on your situation—and you may not have a choice which kind of probate you need—but it may be helpful to understand the differences between them.
Formal Probate Administration
In a formal probate, the probate case is filed, the will is put into the court records, and the judge proceeds to distribute the assets, and transfer legal title to the property in the will, to whoever is supposed to receive the property. The court will also appoint a personal representative, who will likely be someone designated in the will.
The court will set deadlines for the representative to follow—for example, the representative may have to publish notice to possible creditors of the state, or provide a full inventory of the assets in the estate, and their value. The court will also issue any orders that may be needed to carry out the estate, such as telling banks to transfer property, or appoint realtors to sell houses, if needed.
Summary Probate Administration
A summary administration is similar to a formal one, but no personal representative is appointed or needed. The person who filed the petition distributes the assets. Each beneficiary has to sign the petition, and all the orders the court needs to sign are submitted at one time.
A summary administration is only available where either (1) The person passed away more than 2 years ago; (2) The value of the entire estate is less than $75,000 or (3) there are no outstanding debts, or creditors agree to a summary administration.
Before you rush to a summary estate, there is one important caveat—whoever inherits your property will still be subject to creditor claims against whatever they inherited, for two years. This is much longer than the claim period creditors have in a formal administration to make a claim against estate property or assets.
Additionally, beneficiaries that may need help from financial institutions—like having bank accounts transferred, or information from mortgage companies—may have problems, as there are no formal court orders compelling the institutions to communicate with the beneficiaries.
No Administration at All
If you want a probate process that’s even quicker than summary administration, you can simply dispose of estate property without any court action. However, the estate must have creditor claims that are less than the total of funeral expenses and the total of the decedent’s medical expenses for the prior 60 days, and the estate can’t own any land or real property (like houses).
The beneficiaries do not need a probate lawyer; they can petition the court by writing a letter, requesting administration without probate. The court will determine whether the requirements for no probate process are met.
We can help you understand the probate process from start to finish. Contact the Tampa probate lawyers at the Gilbert Garcia Group, P.A.