How to Probate a Small Estate in Florida

By Kay Lee

There are often complaints about the expense and length of time the probate process takes. Given this is an emotional time for a decedent's heirs and beneficiaries, states have developed ways to fast-track smaller estates through the system. The State of Florida has a few methods that simplify the traditional probate process for such estates.

Probate Process

The probate process is one in which a decedent’s estate is officially transferred to his beneficiaries and heirs. Probate is administered through the judicial system and each state has its own laws regarding administration. In Florida, the probate process is initiated in the county where the decedent legally resided at the time of his death.

Exempt Property

In order to determine whether an estate qualifies as a small estate, and thus expedited probate, the value of the estate must be determined minus the amount of any exempt property. Under Florida law, most personal property is considered exempt as well as household furniture, appliances and furnishings worth up to $20,000, two motor vehicles, qualified tuition programs, and certain benefits.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Disposition without Administration

If an estate is very small, it may qualify for disposition without administration under Florida law. This means an heir or beneficiary may petition the court to simply transfer the estate. Each Florida county establishes the threshold value an estate must have to qualify for this type of probate, but typically the threshold is $6,000. The estate must contain only personal property that is either exempt under Florida estate law, exempt from creditors as part of the homestead, or worth less than the total amount of funeral expenses and reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses incurred during the last 60 days of the decedent’s life.

Summary Administration

Summary administration is another option for Florida estates that are small, allowing for estate assets to be distributed quickly. To qualify for summary administration, the decedent must have been dead for at least two years or the value of the estate does not exceed $75,000. The $75,000 requirement is in addition to the value of the residential home, if applicable. However, if a decedent had a will and the will required formal probate, the estate will not qualify for summary administration. This type of probate process begins with the filing of a petition for summary administration. Once the court has reviewed the filing and determined it qualifies, an order will be issued that distributes the estate assets.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
What Is the Time Frame in the State of Florida for the Executor to Disperse the Estate?


Related articles

Probate Account vs. Probate Inventory

During the probate process, the estate's personal representative, often called the executor, is required to complete multiple steps before inheritances can be distributed and the estate closed. Two of these steps are a probate inventory and a probate accounting. Though similar in some respects, the probate inventory and the probate accounting have distinct differences and purposes.

Can I Decline Probate?

“Probate” is a term used to describe the legal process of distributing the estate of a deceased individual, and it involves the appointment of a probate judge who is tasked with supervising the distribution of the decedent's assets. Whether or not probate is legally necessary will depend on several factors. Under the right circumstances, the beneficiaries may properly decline to probate.

When Will Heirs Receive an Inheritance After Probate?

Probate is the process by which a court authenticates an individual's will, and grants a personal representative the authority to marshal and distribute the estate's assets. Probate typically lasts many months, but when you receive your inheritance depends on many factors.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help. Wills & Trusts

Related articles

Florida Probate Court Laws of the Deceased

Generally, probate is the process of gathering a deceased person’s estate, paying his final debts and distributing the ...

Probating a Small Estate in Hawaii

Probate is a court-supervised process involving the collection and distribution of assets owned by a deceased person. ...

How Long Does One Have to Probate a Will?

Probating a will involves court procedures to supervise the distribution of estate assets to the beneficiaries as ...

Is Probate Necessary if a Will Exists in the State of Kansas?

If you die in Kansas, probate will likely be required for your estate, whether or not you have a will. If any of your ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED