Florida law does not have small estate affidavits. However, there are other alternative execution methods for smaller estates that meet certain statutory requirements. Read on to find out whether you need to probate a small estate in Florida.
Do I Need Probate for a Small Estate in Florida? – The Fundamentals
If the deceased’s estate subject to probate is worth more than $75,000 or the decedent has been dead for less than two years, the estate will likely go through formal administration.
Formal administration involves direct court supervision and a lengthier process consisting of several steps executed by a personal representative. As expected, this method is the most time-consuming and demanding type of probate.
Considering surviving spouses or heirs cannot file a small estate affidavit in Florida, it is still possible to file for disposition of property without administration (no probate) or summary administration (a simplified and quicker form of probate).
Disposition 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”
Florida Statutes §735.301 (2) adds that “upon informal application by affidavit, letter, or otherwise by any interested party, and if the court is satisfied that subsection (1) is applicable, the court, by letter or other writing under the seal of the court, may authorize the payment, transfer, or disposition of the personal property, tangible or intangible, belonging to the decedent to those persons entitled.”
Florida Statutes §732.402 (2) defines “exempt property” as:
- “Household furniture, furnishings, and appliances in the decedent’s usual place of abode up to a net value of $20,000 as of the date of death
- Two motor vehicles (…), which do not, individually as to either such motor vehicle, have a gross vehicle weight in excess of 15,000 pounds, held in the decedent’s name and regularly used by the decedent or members of the decedent’s immediate family as their personal motor vehicles
- All qualified tuition programs authorized by s. 529 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (…)
- All benefits paid pursuant to Fla. Stat. §112.1915″ (specific death benefits applied to teachers and school administrators)
If a deceased’s estate does not qualify for disposition without administration, it may qualify for summary administration.
Under Florida Statutes §735.201, “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 two years”
Please note that petitioners filing for summary administration less than two years after the deceased’s passing must settle any outstanding debts attached to the estate. Otherwise, summary administration is not available.