Types of Probate

When people say they need their loved one’s estate “probated,” it sounds like there’s only one way to do that. In fact, Florida law allows for four distinct types of probate administrations.


Which type the Law Office of Gary Landau files for you depends on the circumstances involved. Factors include the size of the estate (that is, the value of the assets to be distributed, not including life insurance with a beneficiary and some other things), and how long the person has been deceased, among others.


Of course, there are some similarities among the types of probates. Regardless of the type of probate, each case typically involves the following steps:


          • Establishing the validity of the Last Will and Testament (if there is one)

          • Gathering and listing the decedent’s assets, including real estate owned by the decedent, bank accounts and stock portfolios in the name of the decedent, cars, valuable artwork or jewelry, and more.

          • Paying all of the decedent’s outstanding debts, including final hospital bills and funeral costs.

          • Distributing the remainder of the decedent’s assets to his or her beneficiaries according to their will and the law.


THE 4 TYPES OF PROBATE ADMINISTRATIONS/PROCEEDINGS IN FLORIDA:


Formal Administration: A formal administration must be done when the decedent has assets of more than $75,000 (including their share of non-Homestead real estate, in Florida or elsewhere) and he or she passed away less than two years earlier. Determining probated assets is not as straightforward as it seems: jointly owned real estate, a shared bank account, assets in a living trust controlled by the decedent, and life insurance with a named beneficiary are all not part of a probated estate. The court closely supervises a formal administration over the collection and distribution of assets, which sometimes involves the attorney going to court (even if the will is not contested). Formal administrations typically take quite a few months from the time the estate is “opened” to when it is “closed,” and it can take even longer if the matter is complex.


Summary Administration: Summary administration is a shortened form of probate. It applies only if the decedent has been dead for more than two years or if the total value of the decedent’s property (excluding exempt assets) does not exceed $75,000. With a summary administration, the initial papers filed with the court detail the estate assets and their value, along with a plan for distributing the assets to the beneficiaries. This is typically a faster and less expensive form of probate for estates that qualify.


Ancillary Administration: Out-of-state residents who own real estate in Florida need to probate their Florida property with an ancillary administration. Because the primary probate happens in the state where they lived, this is an additional probate only for their Florida property, and is often done without the beneficiaries needing to come to the state. Ancillary Administrations can be formal or summary, depending on the size of the property and other factors.


Disposition Without Administration: This is a legal procedure for disposing of a deceased person’s assets without any official probate. Because it is available only in very limited circumstances for tiny estates, it is not used very often.


We’re happy to offer a free probate administration phone consultation with us.The Law Office of Gary Landau, rated 10 out of 10 on the legal website AVVO, has been practicing Florida probate law for more than 20 years. The firm can handle probates in any county in Florida. Contact us by phone or email for a FREE consultation to learn more about our firm or what we can specifically do for you. Attorney Gary Landau personally returns all calls to him.