Summary Administration is an abbreviated form of probate, which is available only for small estates not exceeding $75,000 in value, or under circumstances where the Decedent has been dead for more than two (2) years. If the Decedent died “testate,” (meaning the Decedent died having executed a valid Last Will and Testament), and the Will specifically requires a Formal Administration, Summary Administration will not be available.
A petition for Summary Administration may be filed with the Court by any beneficiary or by the person nominated as Personal Representative in the Decedent’s Will. All beneficiaries must be formally noticed of the petition, and all beneficiaries may join in the Summary Administration by affixing their signatures to the petition.
In order to successfully obtain an order of Summary Administration, the petition for Summary Administration must list the assets of the estate and the exact value of each asset. The petition will also include a schedule of the beneficiaries and a proposal for distribution of the estate assets to the beneficiaries. Upon satisfaction that all requirements of Summary Administration under the Florida Probate Code have been met, the Court may enter an order of Summary Administration authorizing distribution of the assets to the beneficiaries.
Just as required in a Formal Administration, a petitioner seeking Summary Administration is obligated to make a diligent search and reasonable inquiry for known or reasonably ascertainable creditors of the Decedent. Such creditors are entitled to receive a copy of the petition for Summary Administration, and the petitioner is obligated to pay those creditors to the extent that there are assets available in the estate. The petitioner is not liable for any creditor claims of the Decedent beyond the value of the Estate.
After the Court has issued an order of Summary Administration distributing the assets of the Estate to the beneficiaries, any beneficiary has the option to publish a notice to creditors in a newspaper published in the county where the estate is administered, notifying all potential creditors of the Decedent that an order of Summary Administration has been entered by the Court. The purpose of publishing in a Summary Administration is to protect the beneficiaries from any subsequent claims. Pursuant to the Florida Probate Code, a 3-month time limitation is imposed on all creditors of the Decedent beginning from the date of the first publication. All creditors must file their claims against the Decedent with the Court within the 3-month period, and all claims not so filed are forever barred.