Summary Probate is a quicker format for those with small estates.
Probate cases are used after a person has passed away.
There are two basic types of probate cases in Florida – Summary and Formal. Formal probate cases involve estates which have more than $75,000.00 in assets, and are a bit more complex. A personal representative is appointed. This person is usually designated in a will, but sometimes the court has to decide on that person. This occurs when there is no will. Family members are given priority, but it all depends on who is trustworthy. Notice of the estate has to be published in a local newspaper, with proof filed with the court.
Summary probates, by contrast, are much easier. They are reserved for cases with less than $75,000 in assets. They are also used when the person has passed away more than two years ago. In a summary probate, the Petition should list the assets and beneficiaries, including what percentage each beneficiary receives. Wills are also attached. An original will is needed, but there is a process to validate a will when the original is missing.
Summary probates offer a much faster alternative
Unlike formal cases, summary probate cases can be handled in weeks. There is no need to publish notice of the estate before closing the case, and no personal representative is selected. After the petition is filed, and creditors have been determined, the case is ready for entry of a summary order.
Dealing with creditors, however, can be tricky. A diligent search for creditors is necessary, with copies of the petition being served on them. Payment of claims is made if there assets to use, but in most cases there are no such assets. Homes and retirement accounts are generally protected assets under Florida law.
I prefer to use summary probate whenever possible. It is quicker, faster, and less expensive than any formal probate. Simplicity can be golden, and it can save you money. If you have questions regarding an estate, or if you would like to talk to us about updating your will, please call us.