How many types of Probate are there?
There are several different types of Probate with the longest and most involved being the formal administration and the shortest and least complicated being the disposition of personal property without administration.
Disposition of Personal Property without Administration
A Disposition of Personal Property without Administration is used when there is a surviving spouse or children, and there is nothing in the estate that requires a formal administration. In Florida, the personal property in the estate must not exceed the funeral expenses or $6,000. This is very simple and requires a Petition to be filed with the court. A lawyer is not necessary for this type of administration.
The next type of administration is a Summary Administration. This type of administration is done in Florida when the estate, less any exempt property, is under $75,000 or the decedent has been dead for more than two years. The filing of a Petition, which lists the specific assets, their value, and the beneficiaries, starts the Summary Administration. A corresponding Order of Summary of Administration is submitted with the exact information that is on the Petition for Administration. Summary Administrations can be handled in a day in some cases. Notice to creditors is usually optional, unless it is required by the judge; however, if you don't publish the notice then the beneficiaries are personally liable for the decedent's debts up to the amount the person received from the estate.
The most comprehensive type of administration is a Formal Administration. This type of Probate requires the filing of a Petition with a list of the known assets, their approximate value, and the proposed beneficiaries. The court will appoint a personal representative or an executor depending on the state. The court issues letters of administration or letters testamentary. Further, the personal representative gathers all the information about the decedent's assets, publishes Notice to creditors, and then sends that Notice to all known creditors.
The publication period is 90 days in Florida (the period of time creditors have to file claims against the estate). The personal representative can object to a claim if he or she believes that it is not a valid claim or if the claimed amount is too high. If there is an objection, then the creditor has to file suit. Once the claims period has expired, the personal representative calculates the claims and determines if there is enough money to pay the claims. After the claims are paid, then the personal representative can begin distributing the assets to the beneficiaries. The claimants and the beneficiaries need to sign releases before they get any money. Once the estate is distributed, the personal representative can Petition the court to discharge the estate.
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