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What Procedures Are Followed in Summary Administration of an Estate?

Posted on in Estate Planning

Florida estate administration lawyerWhen a person passes away, their family members will need to determine how their assets will be distributed to their heirs. These issues will be addressed in probate court, and the executor or personal representative of the estate will follow the instructions provided in the decedent’s will. The probate process can be complicated, but in some cases, full probate may not be necessary, and a family may be able to complete a summary administration to more quickly and easily distribute their loved one’s assets. By understanding how these cases will be handled, family members can complete the probate process efficiently while ensuring that their loved one’s wishes will be followed.

The Summary Administration Process

Summary administration may be available in cases where the total value of the deceased person’s assets is less than $75,000 or when at least two years have passed since the person’s death. Notably, any assets that are exempt from claims by creditors will not count toward the $75,000 limit. Exempt assets include household furnishings valued up to $25,000, two motor vehicles, and college savings accounts. Non-probate assets, such as assets held in a trust, will also be exempt.

While full probate will require the executor of the estate to file the person’s will in probate court, summary administration may be completed without the need for a personal representative. A beneficiary may file a petition for summary administration, or this process may also be initiated by the personal representative of the estate. 

A petition for summary administration must be signed by the surviving spouse of the decedent and by any beneficiaries of the estate. These may include beneficiaries named in the person’s will, or if the person did not have a will, beneficiaries who are entitled to inherit property under the laws of intestate succession. If a beneficiary has died, is incapacitated, or is a minor, a petition may be signed by their guardian, their surviving spouse or beneficiaries, or another person authorized to make decisions on their behalf, such as the agent in a power of attorney.

A person who files a petition for summary administration must make an effort to locate any creditors who have a claim against the estate, serve them with a copy of the petition, and make provisions for paying debts to the fullest extent possible. However, since the statute of limitations for creditors to make a claim against an estate is two years, when a petition for summary administration is filed more than two years after the person’s death, payments to creditors will not be necessary unless they had made claims against the estate prior to when the petition was filed. 

After a court enters an order of summary administration, the decedent's assets may be immediately distributed to their heirs. If summary administration is completed within two years after a person’s death, creditors may enforce claims against the estate, and beneficiaries who inherited non-exempt property may be liable for making payments to address the debts that were owed. However, once two years have passed, beneficiaries will not be liable for any claims that creditors had not already sought to enforce.

Contact Our Broward County Estate Administration Lawyers

If you want to know about your options for summary administration of a loved one’s estate, or if you need to address other issues related to estate administration, Law Office of Miller & Miller, P.A. can provide the legal help you need. Contact our Wilton Manors probate attorneys at 954-981-9301 to set up your free consultation.



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