When someone dies owning assets titled solely in his or her name in Florida, these assets will go through probate. After determining the validity of the decedent’s will, the court may designate a personal representative to execute and distribute the estate according to the deceased person’s wishes.
Is it possible to avoid probate with a small estate affidavit in Florida? Keep reading to find out.
What is a Small Estate Affidavit? – The Basics
Depending on the size of the estate subject to probate, the existence of disputes between heirs, and the complexity of the assets that are part of the estate, probate may result in a time-consuming and stressful experience.
A small estate affidavit is a written statement authorizing heirs or beneficiaries to claim the assets of a deceased person outside of formal probate proceedings.
With a small estate affidavit, surviving heirs can inherit their share of a decedent’s estate without going through a lengthy and expensive probate process.
Does Florida Recognize Small Estate Affidavit? – The Verdict
There is no small estate affidavit option in Florida. State law has specific alternatives to execute smaller estates and ensure a quicker distribution of the decedent’s assets to their rightful heirs.
There are three ways to execute a decedent’s estate in Florida – summary administration, formal administration, and disposition of property without administration.
Formal administration is the traditional form of probate in Florida. If the value of a deceased person’s estate subject to probate exceeds $75,000 or the decedent has been dead for less than two years, the estate must go through formal administration.
The first element of formal administration is the appointment of a personal representative to execute and distribute the decedent’s estate under court supervision. The process involves several additional steps, which may result in additional waiting months for heirs and beneficiaries.
Summary administration is a quicker version of formal administration. As there is no statutory requirement for a personal representative, the execution of estates subject to summary administration requires no more than six weeks.
As provided by Florida Statutes §735.201(2), summary administration applies for cases in which “the value of the entire estate subject to administration in this state, less the value of property exempt from the claims of creditors, does not exceed $75,000 or that the decedent has been dead for more than 2 years.”
Disposition Without Administration
The closest solution to a small estate affidavit available in Florida is the disposition of property without administration. Florida Statutes §735.301 (1) specifies that “no administration shall be required, or formal proceedings instituted upon the estate of a decedent leaving only:
- Personal property exempt under the provisions of Fla. Stat. §732.402
- Personal property exempt from the claims of creditors under the Constitution of Florida, and
- Nonexempt personal property the value of which does not exceed the sum of the amount of preferred funeral expenses and reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses of the last 60 days of the last illness”
Consult with an expert attorney to identify whether disposition without administration offers a feasible solution for your case.