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Can a small estate quickly go through probate?

On Behalf of | Dec 1, 2021 | Probate, Probate Litigation |

Friends may have told you about the ordeal of going through probate court to secure their inheritance. You know that you do not own a lot in money or property, so there seems to be no reason why your estate should also take a long time to pass through probate. Fortunately, Florida law does provide a way for small estates to avoid lengthy probate.

If your estate has a value of no more than $75,000, the state of Florida may permit you to pass your estate through probate by using summary administration. Florida law describes how summary administration works.

The benefits of summary administration

If a court grants summary administration, an executor will not take charge of your estate. Instead, a court will order the distribution of your estate according to your will. If you have not written a will, the court will rely on laws regarding intestacy to identify and distribute your estate to beneficiaries.

Since summary administration is simpler compared to traditional administration, it takes less time. There is no executor to pay and no notification of creditors. Also, there are fewer court fees and other reduced or eliminated legal costs due to the lack of formalities compared to usual forms of probate.

Qualifying for summary administration

Make sure that a spouse, a relative or anyone you have named as an heir will file a petition for summary administration after your death. In addition, whoever files the petition must make a good faith effort to notify any parties that you owe money to. Your family should try to settle your debts before filing for summary administration. Otherwise, your petitioner could become liable if creditors make claims against your estate.

It is also possible your estate may qualify for summary administration if it has been two years since your death. This will be after the statute of limitations for creditors to file claims against your estate. At this time, even a larger estate may qualify for summary administration.

Plan your estate according to your wishes

If you prioritize getting your estate to your heirs as quickly as possible, you might try to reduce your estate’s assets to meet the $75,000 threshold for summary administration. Be aware of other options that might help you, though. Instead of trying to diminish your estate’s value, you might set up a trust for your heirs so you can avoid probate and speed up inheritances.