In Florida, the traditional form of probate is the formal administration, which starts with a petition to open the estate and an appointment of a personal representative (also known as executor). 

On the other hand, summary administration is a type of probate that does not require the appointment of a personal representative in the state, which helps to expedite the process, making it less time-consuming and cheaper. 

In this article, you will discover what the differences between formal administration and summary administration are. 

Summary Administration vs Formal Administration – When Is it Necessary? 

In the state of Florida, such requirements are needed when a person dies:

  • owning assets solely in their name without a payable on death provision or joint owners, or 
  • owning real property that does not have a survivorship provision.

In such cases, the properties of the deceased individual are opened with the court. Then, the person bringing the case (also known as petitioner) asks the court to enter an order to distribute the assets to the rightful beneficiaries. 

Even though most people want to avoid formal administration in cases involving probate, there are only two ways in which an estate can qualify for summary administration in Florida:

  • In case the decedent has been dead for more than two years; or, 
  • In case the total value of the decedent’s estate subject to probate is less than $75,000 or less. 

There are several variables to consider when choosing between these two types of administration. It is essential to remember that each case involving probate is different, even if the differences may seem small. 

Regardless of the circumstances, we strongly recommend you seek help with an expert attorney in Florida to assess your options properly. 

Summary Administration – Understanding the Concept

There are several advantages associated with summary administration, including a shorter time frame than formal administration, with procedures lasting within a 3-6 month range. 

Plus, summary administration is less expensive than formal administration, and also less complicated since the court requires less documentation. 

However, it does not mean that this option is perfect for all cases. Firstly, all decedent’s estate needs to be accounted for before filing for summary administration. 

If you opt for summary administration, be aware that a personal representative will not be officially appointed. A personal representative is given the authority to request all necessary information regarding the decedent’s estate.

Consequently, within a summary administration, it can be challenging to request information about the decedent’s estate if you are not the personal representative. It happens since institutions are legally bound to withhold this type of information, except for personal representatives.

In case there is a will naming a personal representative, the situation will not be solved until the court enters an order officially appointing the named individual as the decedent’s representative. 

Besides, a summary administration will not provide letters of administration.  

Formal Administration – Understanding the Concept

Formal administration requires extra steps, such as the payment of creditors, the distribution of the decedent’s assets to beneficiaries, and the closing of the state. 

However, unlike summary administration, a personal representative is appointed and given the authority to secure information about the decedent’s estate (assets, debts, etc.).

The personal representative has the authority to deal with creditors, which includes the negotiation of any existing claims and the rejection of claims that are not valid. The personal representative is the only person that has the standing to defend the estate (which is not possible in a summary administration.). 

In case you need to deal with banks and financial institutions, a formal administration will provide the necessary letters of administration. Be aware that some financial entities require separate orders to turn over the decedent’s assets. 

On the other hand, formal administration is a longer proceeding, lasting 6 to 18 months. Plus, it requires more money and more effort than a summary administration.

Summary Administration vs Formal Administration – How Much do I Have to Pay?

Typically, the costs associated with a summary administration in Florida are between $400-$500. 

It is important to notice that other expenses can increase the original amount to be paid, such as original death certificates, translation costs, certified copies of other state’s/country’s legal documentation, etc.). 

The costs associated with a formal administration in Florida start at $500, which includes publication costs as well. 

Summary Administration vs Formal Administration in Florida- We Can Help You

Do not waste time with uncertainty when deciding between summary administration and formal administration in Florida. At Jurado & Farshchian, P.L. we have attorneys who will guide and instruct you according to your case. 

Get in touch with Attorney Romy B. Jurado today by calling (305) 921-0976 or emailing to schedule a consultation.