Tampa Probate Court Proceedings: Summary Versus Formal Administration
Probate is the legal process for settling the estate of someone who is deceased. It identifies assets, settles outstanding debts, determines beneficiaries, and ensures distributions are properly made. There are two types of probate court proceedings in Florida: summary versus formal administration. Our Tampa probate attorney explains what you need to know about each.
Summary Administration Through The Tampa Probate Court
When a loved one passes away in Tampa, their estate must be settled through the Hillsborough County Court before any distributions to beneficiaries are made. Most people have only limited experience with the process, so it is natural to have questions about what is required.
Probate begins by filing a will or other estate planning documents. You have two options when it comes to how probate is handled, and summary administration is generally the simpler choice. It is used only in cases where the person who passed (otherwise known as the decedent) owns property and assets totaling less than $75,000 or in cases where probate was delayed, and they have been deceased for at least two years.
In a summary administration, the probate court process is simplified. Steps you will need to take include:
- File a petition for summary administration with the death certificate, will, and other supporting documents;
- Provide notice to all creditors and settle outstanding debts;
- File any homestead exemptions, which is property that is excluded from creditor claims;
- File a final accounting;
- Distribute remaining property and assets to beneficiaries.
The advantages of summary administration include lower costs and less time to settle the estate, which can typically be resolved in as little as three to six months.
When Formal Probate Court Administration Is Needed
Under the Florida Statutes, formal probate administration may be needed when assets total more than $75,000 or when the decedent’s heirs want to settle the estate within two years of their passing. It typically takes longer, often requires legal help, and there are additional steps you must take throughout the process. These include:
- Have a personal representative for the estate appointed, which is someone previously designated by the decedent in their will;
- Provide a thorough inventory of all the decedent’s property, assets, and outstanding debts;
- Locate and notify beneficiaries;
- Settle all outstanding claims;
- Oversee any sales of property required;
- File a final tax return to close the estate.
Formal probate administration can take a year or longer, particularly in complex cases or when there are problems that must be addressed. These might include difficulty locating assets or disputes involving creditors or beneficiaries.
Get Trusted Legal Guidance From Our Tampa Probate Attorney
Probate involves the often complex process of settling an estate. For trusted legal guidance throughout these proceedings, and to determine whether summary or formal probate administration is needed, reach out to Strategic Counsel Law Group, L.C. You can count on us to handle your case in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible. Call or contact our Tampa probate attorney online and request a consultation today.