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Tampa Family, Business & Estate Planning Lawyers > Tampa Estate Planning Lawyer > Tampa Formal Administration v. Summary Administration Lawyer

Tampa Formal Administration v. Summary Administration Lawyer

The probate estate of a deceased person (or, “decedent”) consists of particular assets owned by the decedent alone, such as a car titled only in the decedent’s name. Whereas jointly owned property, such as a house titled as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, property with a designated beneficiary, such as a life insurance policy, or assets held in a revocable trust are not part of the probate estate. The majority of Florida probate estates are administered via formal administration or summary administration. The differences between formal and summary administration are described below.

Formal Administration
Formal administration is required when the decedent passed away two years ago or less, the value of the nonexempt property in the decedent’s probate estate exceeds $75,000, or the decedent’s will directs that formal administration is required.

Formal administration requires the appointment of a personal representative to manage the probate estate. Florida law details the rights and obligations of the personal representative regarding the probate estate. The court may require that the personal representative post a bond with the court to protect beneficiaries from maladministration, whether intentional or accidental.

Once the assets of the probate estate are accounted for by the court, and all creditor claims are addressed, the personal representative may distribute the assets of the probate estate to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the decedent’s will, if one exists.

Formal administration is more comprehensive and can take anywhere from 4-6 months to many years, depending on the nature and complexity of the case and whether litigation is involved. Upon successful completion of administration, the personal representative is discharged from any further obligations.

Summary Administration
Summary administration is available when the decedent passed away more than two years ago, the value of the nonexempt property in the decedent’s probate estate is $75,000 or less, or the decedent’s will did not direct formal administration.

In summary administration, no personal representative is appointed and no bond is required to be posted. The court assists in the distribution of assets to the beneficiaries of the probate estate.

Because summary administration involves a much simpler probate estate, the process is usually completed in 2-5 months, again depending on the nature and complexity of the case and whether litigation is involved.

Benefits and Shortfalls of Formal Administration v. Summary Administration
Each kind of administration has its benefits and shortfalls. Formal administration is a more comprehensive and lengthier process, but it can be preferred when there are many known creditors to address or you know there will be a legal dispute. In formal administration, the personal representative has many rights, including the right to manage the assets of the estate. Without a personal representative, the court has to be consulted before certain actions are taken.

While summary administration is usually a much shorter process, no personal representative is appointed and many aspects must be brought before the court. Even if a probate estate qualifies for summary administration, it is not always recommended.

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