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Hearing about how long it takes for estates to complete probate might make you nervous about your own assets passing to your heirs in a timely fashion. Fortunately, Florida law provides a way for a small estate to use an expedited process.

If your estate has a value of no more than $75,000, an heir can petition for summary administration after your death. This process is simpler and faster compared to traditional probate.

How summary administration works

With summary administration, there is no need to appoint an executor to oversee your estate. Instead, the court will order the distribution of your assets according to your will. Should you not possess a will, the court will disperse your assets to heirs prioritized by state intestacy laws.

The benefits of this simplified process include reduced costs and a quicker timeline. You have no need to pay an executor, and there are fewer court fees and other expenses since the process involves less court activity.

When estates qualify for summary administration

To use summary administration, a spouse, relative or a designated heir must file a petition with the court. The petitioner must also make a good-faith effort to notify any creditors you owed money to. Ideally, your family should try to settle your outstanding debts before filing for summary administration since creditors could make claims against your estate.

It is also possible for an estate to qualify for summary administration if at least two years have passed since the death of the estate owner. After this time, the statute of limitations for creditors to file claims against the estate has typically expired, even if the value of the estate surpasses $75,000.

Taking steps to prepare your assets

If you want your assets to pass to your heirs as quickly as possible, you may consider reducing your estate value to meet the $75,000 threshold for summary administration. However, you may also explore other options, such as setting up a trust, which can help you avoid probate entirely and speed up the inheritance process.

By understanding the eligibility requirements and benefits of summary administration, you can help ensure the distribution of your assets according to your wishes efficiently and with minimal cost.