When a loved one passes away, it is hard to think about what needs to be done next. In fact, many families do not know the steps involved in the probate process and how long it might take to execute the decedent’s estate.
Depending on factors such as when the decedent passed away and the total value of the estate subject to probate, the process might take six months or longer to complete. If there are no legal disputes or creditors involved, the process may conclude more quickly.
In this article, you will understand why the timeline for different probate cases varies according to each case’s circumstances.
Why Does Probate Take So Long in Florida? – The Essentials
In Florida, there are three ways of executing a decedent’s estate – disposition without administration, summary administration, and formal administration.
Disposition Without Administration
As provided by Florida Statutes §735.301, “no administration shall be required, or formal proceedings instituted upon the estate of a decedent leaving:
- Only personal property exempt (under Fla. Stat. § 732.402)
- Personal property exempt from the claims of creditors under the Constitution of Florida
- 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”
Ultimately, if the total value of the decedent’s estate is less than the amount of end-of-life expenses, the estate may qualify for disposition without administration. Technically, disposition without administration is not a probate proceeding. Thus, the process may be concluded almost immediately.
Summary Administration vs. Formal Administration
As provided by Florida Statute §735.201, summary administration applies to 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.”
Popularly known as an expedited form of probate, summary administration usually takes to about 2-3 weeks to conclude. Ultimately, if the decedent’s estate does not qualify for summary administration, the estate must be formally administered.
Considered the longest form of probate in Florida, formal administration requires several proceedings, such as:
- The initial filing
- Meeting with the personal representative
- Executing the initial documents to be filed with the court
- Waiting for the court to issue Letters of Administration and officially appoint the personal representative
- Issuing Notice of Administration to all interested parties
- Handling inventory and accounting
- Issuing notice to creditors
- Paying or objecting to creditors’ claims
- Filing the final accounting
- Filing tax returns and handling all remaining tax liabilities
- Preparing Distribution Agreement(s) and obtaining receipts & waivers (if necessary)
- Distributing the assets to the beneficiaries
- Closing the estate
Also, it is crucial to consider that for nearly every filing or notice the responsible parties are required to file as part of the probate process, there is a waiting time (or notice period) required so that another party has time to respond.
In most cases, formal administration may take six to eighteen months to conclude. Ideally, the best approach is to sit down with an expert attorney to find a cost-effective solution to expedite the process as much as possible.
Probate Does Not Need to be Overwhelming – Immediately Contact Your Florida Probate Lawyer
Generally, formal probate proceedings in Florida tend to be complicated and make most people involved feel overwhelmed. Waste no time with uncertainty – call Attorneys Romy B. Jurado and Diana L. Collazos at (305) 921-0976 or email [email protected] to schedule a consultation.