Dealing with the death of a loved one is an emotionally distressing experience, especially if you go through probate court to settle the deceased’s estate. Under Florida law, it is possible to settle smaller estates that meet specific requirements outside of probate.
In this article, you will find out what a small estate is and the types of procedures to execute it in Florida.
Executing a Decedent’s Small Estate Without Probate in Florida – In Detail
The default form of probate in Florida is called “formal administration.” This type of procedure is applied to estates worth more than $75,000 or cases in which the deceased has been dead for less than two years.
Depending on the circumstances and level of complexity involved in the case, formal administration may require up to two years to complete. The larger an estate is, the lengthier probate tends to be.
To allow surviving spouses and heirs to settle smaller estates quicker, Florida law has two different procedures available – disposition of property without administration and summary administration.
Disposition of Property Without Administration
As its name suggests, the disposition of property without administration permits the deceased’s surviving spouse and surviving children to inherit outside of probate.
As provided by Florida Statutes §735.301 (1), “no administration shall be required, or formal proceedings instituted upon the estate of a decedent leaving only:
- Personal property exempt under the provisions of s. 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 §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 as defined in Fla. Stat. §316.003, 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″
If an estate is not small enough to qualify for disposition without administration, it may still qualify for summary administration. Considered a simplified form of probate in Florida, settling an estate through summary administration only requires a few weeks.
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”
Individuals interested in filing for summary administration should rely on an attorney’s assistance since it is a legal procedure that involves a direct petition to the court. With a successful petition, you can wrap up an estate more quickly and cheaply.