Probates in Florida are typically handled by the courts as a formal administration (for more substantial assets) or a summary administration (for fewer assets or a longer time since death).

Sometimes, however, the amount of the assets doesn’t warrant an actual probate. In these cases, it may pay to go through a process known as Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration (also known as a Small Estate Proceeding).

Why You’d Use a Disposition Without Administration

Let’s say a person left a small amount of money after their death. But they had funeral and/or medical expenses from the end of their life that are more than the amount they have.

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The heirs want to use the person’s estate to pay these bills, but don’t want to go through an actual probate, since nothing will be left over for them to inherit.

Disposition Without Administration can be used when the decedent’s probatable estate is valued at less than these funeral and medical expenses from their final 60 days. Not included in the value of the estate are a few things the law lets you exclude, such as personal furniture or cars.

What You Need to Do

Because few assets are involved, it typically doesn’t pay to hire a lawyer to do this type of probate. Instead, a family member can get a basic form from the court. (In Broward County, you can pay a few dollars to get the form on their website.)

Then, you must gather the following documents and send them to the courthouse:

          • The original Last Will and Testament (if one exists)
          • A certified copy of the death certificate
          • A copy of a statement from the hospital and funeral home detailing the bill and who paid it
          • A copy of the person’s bank statements, stock certificates, insurance checks, policy value information forms, or any related information regarding the assets you want to transfer with this procedure
          • A notarized and signed verified statement/form from the court

Once these forms (along with the appropriate fees, which typically are a few hundred dollars) are submitted, a judge issues an “Order for Payment of Funds.” The bank or other holders of the assets will use this order to transfer the assets to the appropriate parties.

Hiring an experienced probate attorney is necessary for smoothly discharging most probates in the state of Florida. The highly regarded Law Office of Gary Landau, rated 10 out of 10 on the legal website AVVO, has successfully practiced Florida probate law for more than 20 years. The firm can handle probates in any county in the state of Florida. Contact us by phone or email for a FREE consultation to learn more about our firm and what we can specifically do for you. Attorney Gary Landau personally returns all calls to him.


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