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How are estate procedures handled in Florida?

The loss of a loved one is one of the most difficult times in any person's life because, in addition to the emotional anguish of saying goodbye, those left behind are required to manage a variety of different financial and legal matters. In one of the most emotionally stressful times that a family will ever go through, members of that family are asked to push through their grief in order to make funeral arrangements and oversee matters of the decedent's estate.

As tragic as it may be to think about, the truth is that almost everyone will have to experience these issues of overseeing a lost loved one's estate during a difficult time. Thorough knowledge of how the process works in the state of Florida can make the situation less stressful or confusing for residents of our state.

The first thing to note is that there are two different ways in which an estate may be probated: summary administration and formal administration.

  1. Summary Administration is used if the total value of probated assets is $75,000 or less or if it has been at least two years since the decedent died. With Summary Administration, simply filing a petition to have the assets distributed according to a will can lead to a fast and easy method of estate administration.
  2. Formal Administration is a method that is employed when an estate cannot be probated with a Summary Administration. It also requires a petition, but instead of simply having assets transferred according to a will, a Personal Representative is appointed who is responsible for collecting the assets, paying off any debts the estate owed and more.

Some Florida residents may need to move forward with a Formal Administration, which is a more complex process than a Summary Administration. There are many additional responsibilities included with a Formal Administration, including publishing a notice that alerts creditors of the probating of the estate. If you are unsure of how an estate should be probated, either through Summary or Formal Administration, consider explaining your circumstances to an attorney who could help you learn which type is best for you.

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