Section 735.201 of the Florida Probate Code provides that an estate may qualify for summary administration if it meets the following requirements: (a) the value of the entire estate subject to administration in this state, exclusive of property exempt from creditors' claims, must not exceed $75,000, or, the decedent must have died more than two years beforehand; and (b) if the decedent has left a valid will, the will must not direct formal administration in accordance with Fla. Stat. Ch. 733.
The estate must qualify under Fla. Stat. § 735.201 for summary administration. If it does not meet the requirements of that section, then the probate court is without authority to order summary administration. An order of summary administration that is entered based upon some error in procedure may be vacated, but unlike a void judgment, it has legal force and effect unless it is vacated.
Because exempt property, and real property located outside Florida are not included within the computation, summary administration is available when the value of the decedent's other assets does not exceed $75,000. Furthermore, since the decedent's homestead property is not defined as an asset of the estate (See Florida Statute §733.607) a beneficiary can petition the court for summary administration even if the decedent's homestead is worth several hundred thousand dollars. Realize if the estate has creditors, then in addition to a Petition for Summary Administration, the beneficiary will want to file a homestead petition and publish notice to creditors if less than two years has passed since the decedent died.
Summary administration is instituted by the filing of a petition. The Petition for Summary administration must be signed and verified by the surviving spouse, if any, and any beneficiaries seeking the relief. See Fla. Stat. § 735.203(1). However, a petition for summary administration is not required to be signed by a beneficiary who will receive a full distributive share. The petition for summary administration must be filed in the circuit court in which venue for the probate proceedings is proper. Venue, for purposes of summary administration, is determined in the same manner as for formally administered estates. As you might have guessed, a summary administration costs less than a regular administration, and is usually much quicker. For more information contact Cody & Linde, PLLC today!