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Probate

Florida’s probate shortcut: how to know if you qualify

Florida’s probate threshold for simplified probate


  • Summary administration is a path to probate that typically takes one to two months.

  • It is completed with less court supervision than full probate, which in Florida is called formal administration.

  • An estate can pursue summary administration if it is valued under $75,000, and either has no debt or is starting probate at least two years since your loved one’s death.

  • In summary administration, the court does not appoint a personal representative—known in other states as an executor—to lead the estate through probate.

  • However, hiring a lawyer is required for summary administration, in almost all cases.


In Florida, the most common type of probate is called formal administration. This is also known as "full probate," meaning that every step of the process is court-supervised—and it will take a minimum of six months, though 18 months or more is common.

There is a faster, and therefore cheaper, way to resolve your loved one’s financial life, though: summary administration. The streamlined process generally takes one to two months, because it requires less court supervision.

To qualify for summary administration, the estate must hold no debt (or two years must have passed since your loved one died). In addition, the value of your loved one’s estate must be below what’s known as the probate threshold. In Florida, the threshold is $75,000.

How to calculate estate value in Florida

In determining an estate’s value in Florida, you would appraise the assets and subtract the debts owed.

But it is important to remember that non-probate assets do not factor into this calculation at all.

Your loved one’s total assets may be well over $75,000, but if a lot of those assets are non-probate assets (also known as exemptions), the estate can still be under the probate threshold. If it is, you may take the faster route through probate via summary administration.

Assets that are exempt are:

  • The homestead, or the home where your loved one lived, is exempt from creditors, and it is not included in probate in Florida.

  • Household furnishings and appliances up to $20,000 in value in the home where your loved one lived.

  • Up to two vehicles that were registered in your loved one’s name and used regularly. 

  • Tuition programs, such as the Florida Prepaid College Trust Fund, that are qualified under IRS Code Section 529.

  • Revocable trusts with a named beneficiary—the assets transfer directly to them without going through probate.

  • Payable-on-death (POD) and transfer-on-death (TOD) accounts or property with named beneficiaries.

  • Property designated as joint title with rights of survivorship, in which two people have equal right to a property, and if one person passes away the other person named on the title has full ownership.

  • Property designated as tenancy by entirety, which is similar to joint tenancy, but only applies to married couples in Florida.

Using an appraiser to assess the value of the estate’s assets is always a good idea, particularly if there is reasonable doubt about whether the estate is under the probate threshold.

How summary administration works in Florida

To begin summary probate, a Petition for Summary Administration must be filed with the Circuit Court in the county where your loved one lived.

Next, the surviving spouse and any other beneficiaries will sign and verify the petition, along with all other beneficiaries. Those who do not sign it must be served a notice that the petition has been filed.

The petition must include a complete list of the assets of the person who has passed away, the value of those assets, who will inherit them, as well as an explanation why the estate qualifies for summary probate based on the circumstances.

As with almost all probate cases in Florida, you will need to hire a lawyer. But a personal representative from the family does not have to be legally designated to guide the estate through probate, as is done during formal administration. (In other states, this role is known as the executor.)

Unlike other types of probate, the court doesn’t decide on a personal representative for the estate. Skipping that, the court goes directly to the question of whether the estate qualifies for summary administration.

If it does, the court releases the property to the beneficiaries who inherit it by issuing an order that can be shown to a bank that you have now officially inherited the assets.

As much as one may want to avoid probate, formal administration may be unavoidable. In fact, it is the most common type of probate used in Florida. However, the state’s expedited path is an attractive option at a time when grief itself can be incredibly time-consuming—so settling your loved one’s affairs quickly is a choice you won’t regret ●

Probate

Probate

Probate is often a long and complex process, but it is also completely manageable if you stay organized and follow the instructions of the court. It’s definitely still a good idea to avoid the full probate process, if you can. We’ll walk you through whichever scenario applies to your loved one’s estate.