Florida Probate Statute 735.206: Summary Administration Distribution
When someone passes away, his (or her) affairs must be settled and assets distributed. This must be done in an orderly fashion according to Florida probate law. Depending on the size of the estate and a few other factors, there are different ways to settle an estate. Formal administration is the longer more complex process, while summary administration is the shorter process, generally reserved for smaller estates that are not likely to have complications. In either case, the ultimate result is for the decedent’s assets to be distributed to his (or her) beneficiaries or heirs based according the requirement of the decedent’s will and Florida law. To learn more about the summary administration process, including the requirements of Florida Statutes, section 735.206- Summary administration distribution, contact a skilled Fort Lauderdale estate administration lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates. We have the experience, skill, and knowledge to ensure that your legal rights are protected throughout the administration process.Summary Administration
Summary administration is a streamlined estate administration process that allows an estate to be settled and assets distributed in a very short time period as compared to formal administration. A decedent’s estate can qualify for summary administration if the value of the decedent's Florida probate property does not exceed $75,000, exclusive of the value of the decedent's protected homestead real estate. A decedent’s estate will also meet the requirements for Florida summary administration if the decedent has been dead for more than two years. If this is the case, the value of the estate is irrelevant.Order of Summary Administration
With summary administration, assets can be distributed only after the probate court issues an order of summary administration. It is important to understand that the court will not allow assets to be distributed based on an invalid will. Under summary administration, if there is a will, it must be proved in the same manner as a will must be proved under formal administration. In addition, before an order of summary administration will be issued, the petitioner is required to make a diligent search and reasonable inquiry for any creditors. He (or she) must then serve a copy of the petition on those creditors. Finally, the petitioner must pay the creditors.
Under FL. Stat, section 735.206- Summary administration distribution, once an order of summary administration has been entered by the probate court, immediate distribution of assets is allowed. It also means that the beneficiaries are entitled to receive the specific parts of the decedent’s estate to which they are entitled. And, have the right to enforce their right to such property. In addition, bona fide purchasers from distributees of property of the estate shall take the property free of all claims of creditors of the decedent. On the other hand, each distributee of the decedent’s property under the order of summary administration are personally liable for a pro rata share of all lawful claims against the estate of the decedent to the extent of the value of the property received by the distributee.
As an experienced estate administration attorney in Fort Lauderdale will explain, it is critical that the petitioner take care to identify all heirs of a decedent, as under Florida law any heir of a decedent who was entitled to a share of the estate, but was not included in the order of summary administration and did not receive ad distribution, has the right to file a claim against the petitioner who procured the order.Formal Administration
Formal administration is the estate administration process that involves the appointment of a personal representative who, while accountable to the probate court, is responsible for managing the activities required to settle the decedent’s estate and distribute assets. While many of the activities of formal administration are the same as during summary administration, the process tends to be more complex, more costly, and longer.
The personal representative must take control of the estate assets and inventory them in order to determine the value of the estate. Next the personal representative must notify creditors and review claims filed against the estate. Valid claims must be paid and other claims must be disposed of appropriately. After debts and expenses must be paid, the personal representative will transfer estate assets to the appropriate people.
Throughout the administration process there may be claims filed against the estate, will disputes, and other forms of estate litigation. Typically the process takes up to a year. If there are complications such as prolonged estate litigation, the process could take significantly longer. On the other hand, summary administration is designed to avoid the complications that can plague estates that go through formal administration.Disposition Without Administration
As a skilled Fort Lauderdale estate administration lawyer will explain, in addition to formal administration and summary administration, there is a third option for settling an estate called “Disposition Without Administration." This option is typically used for estates that are very small. For example, it is used when all the decedent's assets are either exempt from creditor claims or the value of the probate assets does not exceed the funeral expenses and medical expenses related to the decedent's final illness if any. Furthermore, the estate cannot include real estate.Related Statutory Provisions
- Summary administration; nature of proceedings: § 735.201, Fla. Stat.
- Petition for summary administration: § 735.203, Fla. Stat.
- Filing of petition: § 735.2055, Fla. Stat.
- Disposition without administration: § 736.301, Fla. Stat.
- Upon the filing of the petition for summary administration, the will, if any, shall be proved in accordance with chapter 733 and be admitted to probate.
- Prior to entry of the order of summary administration, the petitioner shall make a diligent search and reasonable inquiry for any known or reasonably ascertainable creditors, serve a copy of the petition on those creditors, and make provision for payment for those creditors to the extent that assets are available.
- The court may enter an order of summary administration allowing immediate distribution of the assets to the persons entitled to them.
- The order of summary administration and distribution so entered shall have the following effect:
- Those to whom specified parts of the decedent’s estate, including exempt property, are assigned by the order shall be entitled to receive and collect the parts and to have the parts transferred to them. They may maintain actions to enforce the right.
- Debtors of the decedent, those holding property of the decedent, and those with whom securities or other property of the decedent are registered are authorized and empowered to comply with the order by paying, delivering, or transferring to those specified in the order the parts of the decedent’s estate assigned to them by the order, and the persons so paying, delivering, or transferring shall not be accountable to anyone else for the property.
- After the entry of the order, bona fide purchasers for value from those to whom property of the decedent may be assigned by the order shall take the property free of all claims of creditors of the decedent and all rights of the surviving spouse and all other beneficiaries.
- Property of the decedent that is not exempt from claims of creditors and that remains in the hands of those to whom it may be assigned by the order shall continue to be liable for claims against the decedent until barred as provided in the code. Any known or reasonably ascertainable creditor who did not receive notice and for whom provision for payment was not made may enforce the claim and, if the creditor prevails, shall be awarded reasonable attorney’s fees as an element of costs against those who joined in the petition.
- The recipients of the decedent’s property under the order of summary administration shall be personally liable for a pro rata share of all lawful claims against the estate of the decedent, but only to the extent of the value of the estate of the decedent actually received by each recipient, exclusive of the property exempt from claims of creditors under the constitution and statutes of Florida.
- After 2 years from the death of the decedent, neither the decedent’s estate nor those to whom it may be assigned shall be liable for any claim against the decedent, unless proceedings have been taken for the enforcement of the claim.
- Any heir or devisee of the decedent who was lawfully entitled to share in the estate but who was not included in the order of summary administration and distribution may enforce all rights in appropriate proceedings against those who procured the order and, if successful, shall be awarded reasonable attorney’s fees as an element of costs.
To learn more about estate administration and the various options that may be available for your particular situation, contact an experienced estate administration attorney serving West Palm Beach. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience working closely with beneficiaries, heirs, personal representatives and other interested parties in all aspects of estate administration, and understand the requirements of Florida Statutes, section 735.206- Summary administration distribution. We can help. Contact us attorneys at 561-710-4000 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.