When it comes to estate planning, your main objective is probably to ensure that your wishes regarding the disposition of your estate will be carried out after your death and that you minimize complications, tax liability, and any other issues. Although drafting a will, a revocable trust, or another testamentary document is a critical first step to ensuring the achievement of this goal, navigating the probate system after your death is also critically important. Once you pass, the personal representative whom you identified in your plan, or a personal representative appointed by the court, will begin the process of carrying out your wishes. There is an expedited probate process available for certain qualifying estates that is known as summary administration. At the Martin Law Firm, our Fort Myers and Cape Coral probate attorneys can help you ensure that your estate will qualify for this process. On the other hand, if you are a personal representative handling the disposition of a will, our dedicated legal professionals are ready to assist you with navigating the legal complexities of the probate process. We also have offices in Naples, Miami, and Tampa, from which we can assist people throughout Southwest Florida communities.Understanding Summary Administration in Florida Probate Courts
In general, summary administration is a shortened version of the regular probate process that non-qualifying estates must complete. The first major difference between formal administration and summary administration is that summary administration does not require a personal representative to be appointed. It also typically takes a shorter period of time, less effort, and less money than a regular administrative proceeding. Florida law recognizes two ways that an estate can satisfy the requirements for summary administration. First, the decedent must have died at least two years ago. The second method of qualifying requires that the entire value of the decedent’s estate minus the value of any property exemptions from creditor claims does not exceed $75,000. It is important to note, however, that if the will or other testamentary document clearly states that the testator wants their estate to go through formal probate administration, the estate is not eligible for summary administration.Navigating a Summary Administration Proceeding
The first step in summary administration involves filing a petition with the probate court, which can be completed by a beneficiary of the will or the personal representative nominated in the will. The petition must contain specific information explaining why the estate is eligible for summary administration. The petition must include a list of the decedent’s assets and each asset’s estimated value, information about any outstanding debts, and the testator’s plan for disseminating these assets. After the court reviews the petition, it will determine whether the estate qualifies for summary administration. If it qualifies, the court will issue an order providing for the distribution of the assets. This process does not require the appointment of a personal representative, which is a main component of a formal probate proceeding. Once the order is issued, the estate is distributed promptly.
Many people have concerns regarding creditor claims upon their death. Florida law provides for a two-year non-claim period, which means that if the decedent has been deceased for two years or longer, creditor claims are no longer valid. If the decedent has not been deceased for two years or more, any outstanding creditor claims must be handled before the court will issue a summary administration order. According to Florida law, the individual who files the petition must conduct a diligent search and reasonable inquiry to find any creditors and to provide them with a copy of the petition. This can be a painstaking and complicated process, which is why it is a good idea to consult an experienced and knowledgeable estate planning lawyer. This can help you avoid any litigation based on ambiguities in the document or conflicts among beneficiaries.Explore Your Options with an Estate Planning Lawyer in Cape Coral or Fort Myers
Whether you are planning your estate and hoping to take advantage of summary administration, or you are a personal representative seeking reliable legal counsel as you carry out your duties, the professional and compassionate estate planning lawyers at the Martin Law Firm are ready to assist you. Losing a loved one or contemplating how you want your estate to be distributed can be an emotional and stressful experience. Our team of legal professionals has handled summary administration and probate matters on behalf of people in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Naples, Miami, Tampa, and other cities in Southwest Florida, which means that we know what you are going through or may go through in the future. We offer a free consultation to help you learn about your options and rights, so call us now at (844) 465-4357 or contact us online.