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How to expedite the probate process in Florida

Most people think of the probate process as being lengthy and complicated. However, under Florida law, there is a simple process that applies to specific situations.

If the estate of a decedent meets certain requirements, it may qualify for a probate process called summary administration.

About probate

It is a common practice for the estate of a decedent to go through probate. Once the last will and testament of the deceased person is verified by the court, the personal representative named in the will begins the work of estate administration. He or she becomes legally responsible for paying final bills and taxes and protecting the assets of the estate until such time as distribution to beneficiaries can go forward per the wishes of the decedent.

Understanding summary administration

Summary administration, on the other hand, goes into effect when someone has either been dead for more than two years or the estate of the decedent amounts to less than $75,000, excluding the home the deceased person owned.

Either a beneficiary or the personal representative of the decedent can file a petition for summary administration. However, a surviving spouse, if there is one, must sign and verify the petition, which the petitioner can file at any point in the administration process.

Paying debts

Under Florida law, the petitioner who files for summary administration must "make a diligent search and reasonable inquiry for any known or reasonably ascertainable creditors." The petitioner must then serve each creditor with a copy of the petition and arrange for payment. However, there is a nonclaim provision in Florida that blocks creditor claims if more than two years have passed since the death of the decedent.

Asset distribution

Once the court receives and approves the petition, the judge can issue an order to distribute the assets. In this, the process is much faster than traditional probate. Although summary administration is a fairly uncomplicated procedure overall, legal guidance can help ensure that there are no missteps. 

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