There are three types of legal proceedings to transfer a decedent's assets in Florida: Disposition of personal property without administration; summary administration; and formal probate.
The type of estate proceedings required to transfer estate assets in Florida depends on the nature and value of the estate, and how much time has passed since the decedent’s death. There are three types of estate proceedings in Florida:
Disposition of personal property without administration. This is available for the estate of a decedent leaving only exempt personal property, 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.
An order directing the transfer of the assets can be obtained by any interested party upon informal application by affidavit, letter, or otherwise. The interested party need not be represented by an attorney. An order of distribution can usually be obtained within a number of days.
Summary administration. This is available for all estates in which (1) the last will, if any, does not direct administration, and (2) the value of the entire probate estate less exempt property does not exceed $75,000 or the decedent has been dead for more than 2 years.
An order directing the transfer of the assets can be obtained by the filing of a petition for summary administration, which must be signed and verified by the surviving spouse, if any, and any beneficiaries (except a beneficiary who will receive a full distributive share). Formal notice of the petition must be served on any beneficiary not joining in the petition. The interested party need not be represented by an attorney. An order of distribution can usually be obtained within a few weeks.
Formal probate. This form of estate administration is required in all other cases, i.e., estates in which the last will directs administration or in which the estate value less exempt property exceeds $75,000 and the decedent has been dead less than two years.
Very basically speaking, the process entails the appointment of a personal representative (executor); notice to beneficiaries; establishment of the last will, if any; notice to known and unknown creditors; payment of creditors’ claims; payment of administrative expenses; and finally, distribution of assets to the proper beneficiaries.
This is a relatively expensive and time consuming proceeding, which normally can be concluded in no less than about 5 months but which usually takes from nine to twelve months from start to finish. It can also become very complex if it involves contested proceedings, such as objections to the qualifications of the personal representative, objections to the last will, or objections to creditors’ claims. The petitioner (usually the proposed personal representative) must be represented by an attorney.
Copyright 2012, The Law Office of Vincent J. Profaci, P.A., serving Altamonte Springs, Kissimmee, Lake Mary (including Heathrow), Longwood (including Lake Brantley and Sweetwater), Maitland, Orlando, Sanford, and all of Central Florida in the areas of Wills and Living Trusts, Estate Planning, Asset Protection, Elder Law, Medicaid Planning, Probate, Real Estate, and Business Law and Litigation.