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What Are the Different Types of Probate Cases in Florida?

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There is a lot of discussion about probate, probate courts, and the probate process whenever we discuss estate law. When a person dies, their estate goes through probate. Probating a will involves taking the estate to probate courts, where the personal representative (also known as the executor) addresses the language of the will, gathers estate assets, settles debts, distributes assets, and eventually closes the estate.

All probate cases go through the following stages:

  • If there is a will, probate proceedings will ensure that the last will is valid according to Florida State law. If there is no will, then the deceased died ‘intestate.’ When dying intestate, the court determines how to proceed with the distribution of assets, the naming of a personal representative, and the estate’s closing. To ensure that your estate assets go to your intended beneficiaries, you must create a will.
  • Next, the personal representatives must gather and document the estate properties and assets. This may include real property, stock portfolios, motor vehicles, bank accounts, valuable jewelry, art, and more.
  • After gathering and valuing each estate asset, the personal representative must notify creditors and those who may have a claim against the decedent’s estate. The personal representative must settle those debts, including funeral expenses and medical bills.
  • Any remaining assets after outstanding debts have been paid will be distributed to named beneficiaries and heirs according to the language of the will.
    When all is said and done, the estate’s personal representative may then close the estate.

But are there different types of probate? Yes, actually. Florida has four primary types of probate: formal administration, summary administration, ancillary administration, and disposition without administration.

What is Formal Administration?

The most commonly used type of probate is formal administration. Also known as formal probate, this type of probate is handled in the County Circuit Court, where the decedent resided at the time of their death.

The personal representative of the estate will be appointed to oversee the distribution of assets and the settling of debts. In many cases, it is recommended that personal representatives retain professional legal counsel from experienced probate lawyers.

What is Summary Administration?

Summary administration is designed for somewhat smaller estates. This type of probate process will be used in situations where the estate is valued at $75,000 or less. Also, summary administration can be used if the decedent died more than two years prior to the filing for probate.

Summary administration is typically considered the fastest and cheapest type of probate process, especially compared to the far more common formal administration. In summary administration cases, legal documents referred to as petitions are filed with the court, which outline the estate assets and the plan to distribute those assets according to the wishes of the decedent. Provided that the probate court has no objection to this plan, they will allow the plan to go forth and the assets to be distributed.

What is Disposition Without Administration?

Disposition without administration is not really a type of probate since there is no administration of the estate at all. However, it is important to note this among the various types of probate cases. The disposition without administration process is used infrequently because there are several requirements that must first be met.

These include:

  • No creditors have claims to debts owed by the deceased.
  • The total value of exempt personal property is valued at $20,000 or less.
  • Nonexempt property is not greater than the financial costs of funeral, burial, and hospital expenses.

Disposition without administration is only used for very small estates. If you would like to learn more about this process, please contact our law firm to discuss your case with our experienced probate lawyer.

What is Ancillary Administration?

When the deceased was a resident of another state but owned property in Florida, it may be necessary to consider ancillary administration.

The primary probate process typically only occurs in this state where the decedent lived at the time of their death. Ancillary administration is only performed for the estate assets and real property owned by the decedent in Florida, such as a summer home, boat, or investment in Florida property.

Generally, ancillary administration can be completed without requiring beneficiaries or personal representatives to travel to Florida in person. Once probate is filed in the state where the deceased lived before their death, a Florida probate attorney, such as our own, would then open ancillary administration. This would require an authentic copy of the will, a death certificate, a copy of the form for the primary probate process, and potentially other documents.

What Are Different Types of Probate Litigation Cases?

In rare cases, there may be cause for litigation in probate proceedings.

Different types of probate litigation cases include the following:

  • Contesting the validity of a will or trust.
  • Defending in a state against claims from disinherited beneficiaries.
  • Suspicion of criminal activity, such as undue influence, fraud, embezzlement, and more.
  • The desire to modify the terms of wills and trusts.
  • Wish to collect a debt owed by the deceased.
  • And more.

To discuss your probate litigation case, please contact our Miami law office for a free case evaluation.

Contact Us for a Free Consultation with an Experienced Probate Attorney

The probate process can feel unnecessarily long, costly, and complicated. Luckily for you, help is available. If you are going through the probate process after the death of a loved one, it is highly recommended that you retain professional legal counsel to help you through the process. At our law firm, attorney Pedro Armando Perez-Roura and his highly skilled legal team have years of experience in all types of probate cases in Florida.

We would be proud to lend our knowledgeable and compassionate legal services to you during what must be a truly challenging time in your life. To schedule a free, no-obligation case evaluation, please contact Perez-Roura Law today at 305-570-3259.

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