Summary Estate Administration And Florida Law
You always hear that, when a family member dies, you must promptly submit a petition to the court for probate of the estate, but what happens if you don’t? Not much, except that the decedent’s heirs and creditors don’t get paid. It isn’t as if the estate can assess penalties on a dead person for what the person failed to do while they were dead. Most probate cases begin within a few months of the decedent’s death, but if a deceased person’s estate has never gone through probate, it is never too late to start. In one Florida case, a woman admitted her mother’s estate to probate 29 years after her mother died. This was because the daughter was working on her own estate plan, and she needed to settle her mother’s estate to be sure that the house she had inherited from her mother legally belonged to her; this way she could avoid disputes if she were to sell the house or bequeath it to her own children in her will. Today, Florida law allows a simplified probate process known as summary estate administration for the estates of people who died more than two years before anyone petitioned to settle the estate. If you need to settle the estate of a deceased person and are wondering if it is eligible for summary administration, contact a Tampa probate attorney.
How Does Summary Estate Administration Work?
The formal process of probate usually takes between six and nine months. Once you (the petitioner) file a petition to open the estate for probate, the court must appoint a personal representative and verify the validity of the decedent’s will, if the decedent wrote one. The personal representative must then notify creditors that the estate is open, settle any debts (which may require the estate to sell some of its assets), file a final tax return for the estate, and then distribute the remaining assets to the appropriate beneficiaries.
Summary administration is much simpler, usually taking less than two months. The court does not appoint a personal representative, and there is no collecting of debts from the estate, usually because the deadline has passed for creditors to seek repayment of debts from the estate.
How to Tell If an Estate Qualifies for Summary Administration
If the decedent died more than two years ago, the estate qualifies for summary administration; the statute of limitations for seeking to collect a debt from a deceased person’s estate is two years from the date of the person’s death. If the decedent died more recently than that, the estate qualifies for summary administration if the decedent owned less than $75,000 in non-exempt assets. You can hire a probate lawyer for summary administration, but some people choose to settle the estate through summary administration without hiring a lawyer.
Contact David Toback With Questions About Summary Estate Administration
A Central Florida probate lawyer can help you settle a deceased relative’s estate, no matter how small or how old the estate is. Contact David Toback in Tampa, Florida to set up a consultation.