Settling a deceased person’s estate in Florida is not always an easy task, which directly affects the length of time required in the process. The simpler an estate is, the quicker an executor can settle and close it in court.
In this article, you will discover how long the process to settle an estate is in Florida.
Settling an Estate in Florida – The Fundamentals
The length of time required to settle an estate in Florida varies significantly, depending on different factors:
- The amount and complexity of assets held in the estate
- The number of interested parties (heirs, beneficiaries, creditors, etc.)
- The existence of assets located in multiple jurisdictions
- The date of the deceased’s passing
- Litigation or legal disputes in the process
Executing a Deceased’s Estate in Florida – As Provided by Law
Florida law has three methods to execute a decedent’s estate:
Disposition without administration applies exclusively for smaller estates, consisting mostly of exempt property under Florida Statutes §732.402. If an estate qualifies for disposition without administration, it does not need to go through probate.
Summary administration is a simplified version of probate. Florida Statutes §735.201 states that “summary administration may be had in the administration of either a resident or nonresident decedent’s estate when it appears:
- In a testate estate, that the decedent’s will does not direct administration as required by chapter 733
- That 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”
Neither disposition without administration nor summary administration require the appointment of a personal representative (also referred to as “executor”). Hence, the process can be concluded within a few weeks.
If the value of the decedent’s estate subject to probate exceeds $75,000 or the decedent has been dead for less than two years, the estate may go through formal administration.
How Long an Executor Have to Settle an Estate Florida? – Taking a Closer Look
The first step to commence formal administration is the court’s appointment of a personal representative (or executor). Once the letters of administration are issued, the individual named as the estate’s executor must fulfill several duties that include:
- Identifying, gathering, and inventorying the decedent’s assets
- Notifying all parties with an interest in the estate
- Searching and locating the decedent’s outstanding creditors
- Publishing notice to creditors
- Pay or reject creditors’ claims based on their validity
- Execute part of the estate to pay funeral expenses, medical bills, outstanding bills, and other debts
- File and pay federal and state taxes
- Distribute the remaining assets in the estate to the legitimate heirs and beneficiaries
- Close the estate
Creditors have a statutory threshold of at least 90 days to file claims against the estate after service of notice. Potential challenges to creditors’ claims and disputes between the executor and creditors can drag out the process even more.
Ideally, the executor should aim to wrap up the estate’s affairs within 12 months of the court’s official appointment. Executing simpler estates through formal administration usually requires up to six months.
Please note that unexpected issues may lengthen the probate process, such as will contests, unknown heirs, an overwhelming number of outstanding debts, conflicts between heirs, etc. In such cases, the probate period may last up to two years.