Essary Law Firm, PA

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Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561         Pensacola, Florida 32502

Florida Probate Administration


When a person dies, there are certain things that must occur.  Any taxes must be paid, creditors must be notified, debts must be paid and ownership to their property must be transferred to their heirs or beneficiaries.


The process of performing these tasks is called probate administration.  This is a formal process by which the court will oversee these tasks of wrapping up of a the decedent's affairs including all of the above activities.


Probate administration is required whether a person dies testate (with a will) or intestate (without a will).


  • Formal Administration

    When someone dies in Florida and owns property, the probate court will determine who the rightful person or persons are to receive the assets of the deceased.  This process if called Probate Administration.  This process will be very similar whether the person died with a will ("testate") or without a will ("intestate").


    What Do I need to get started?


    You will need to provide your attorney the following information:


    1.  The original Last Will & Testament of the decedent, if one exists,

    2.  An original short form death certificate (the version that does NOT include the cause of death),

    3.  A general description and estimate value of the decedent's property,

    4.  The name and addresses of each beneficiary or heir and date of birth for anyone under age 18.

    5.  The name and address of the person listed as Personal Representative named in the Will.

    6.  Funds for court costs and either a retainer or fee (if the attorney charges only a flat fee).


    What happens during the administration?


    First, your attorney will prepare a Petition for Administration, and Oath of Personal Representative and Designation of Resident Agent and consent forms if there are beneficiaries other than the petitioner.  Your attorney will then file the papers along with the originals of the Last Will & Testament, if one exists, and Death Certificate with the probate court.


    Next, your attorney will publish a Notice to Creditors for two consecutive weeks in the local newspaper.  Creditors have 3 months to file a claim against the estate for any outstanding debts or forever be barred from any such claim.  The attorney will also send a notice directly to any known creditors of the decedent who then have 30 days to file a claims again the estate.  The attorney will also prepare an Inventory with the description and value of all assets of the decedent and send a copy of the court and all beneficiaries.


    During this time, the Personal Representative may sell any real property (with approval from the court if necessary) and any personal property.  All proceeds will be deposited into a bank account in the name of the estate of the decedent for payment of any creditor claims, fees, costs and other expenses.


    Final Steps


    Prior to closing out the estate, you must provide your attorney with the following information:

    1.  Value and nature of all estate assets,

    2.  Additions to or deletions from those assets,

    3.  Expenses paid,

    4.  Amounts remaining,

    5.  Distributions made.


    Your attorney will prepare a Final Accounting, a Petition for Discharge and proposed order for the court.  The attorney may also send copies to all interested parties along with a waiver allowing the final process to be expedited.  Once the court issues certified copies of the order for discharge and the administration process is complete.


    How long does all of this take?


    The minimum time for a simple estate is between six and nine months.  However, if you have anything outside of the ordinary, this process can and will take longer.


  • Summary Administration


    How do I qualify?


    First, the decedent's Will cannot direct Formal Administration pursuant to Chapter 733 of the Florida Statutes.  If the Will directs that formal administration take place, the estate will not qualify for summary administration.  However, if the Will is silent as to administration or if there is no Will the estate may qualify for summary administration if: (1) "...the value of the entire estate subject to administration in this state, less the value of property exempt from the claims of creditors, does not exceed $75,000..." or (2) "...the decedent has been dead for more than 2 years."


    Both resident and non-resident decedents may qualify for Summary Administration.


    What about creditors?


    If the decedent died less than 2 years ago, you are obligated to perform a diligent search for creditors and arrange payment of any debts found.  If the decedent died more than 2 years ago, creditors (unless they hold a secured interest) are legally barred from filing a claim against the estate unless they have timely filed the proper paperwork with the court.


    You may also choose to publish a notice to creditors for 2 weeks in a newspaper in the county in which the decedent died, but it is not required.


    What else do I need to know?


    Even if an estate meets all of the other requirements, summary administration may not be the best course of action.  Factors that may lead you to choose formal administration include (but are not limited to) the presence of creditors of the estate, multiple beneficiaries, assets in other jurisdictions, likelihood of contests, objections, or disputes, homestead issues, federal, state, and local tax matters, elective share matters, etc.

  • Ancillary Administration

    Ancillary Administration is a probate process that is conducted in a state other than the state in which the decedent died.  Florida court cannot authorize the transfer of title to assets outside of it's borders.  Therefore, an order must be obtained from the court in which such out-of-state property is located.  It is "ancillary" because it occurs at same time and in addition to Formal Administration in the decedent's home state.


    For example, if a resident of Alabama dies owning a condominium in Pensacola Beach, Florida, Formal Probate Administration will be conducted in Alabama and Ancillary Administration will be conducted in the Florida.


Serving families in Escambia and Santa Rosa County.


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