Probate Summary Administration

What is Probate?

Probate is a legal process that takes place after someone passes away. It involves the validation of the deceased person’s will (if one exists) and the distribution of their assets to heirs and beneficiaries. Summary administration is a simplified probate process designed for smaller estates.

Benefits of Summary Administration:

Summary administration is an alternative to formal probate that is typically available for estates with lower asset values. The specific threshold for a small estate varies by jurisdiction, but it is generally defined by a monetary limit. In many cases, if an estate falls below this limit, the probate court may allow for summary administration, which is a quicker and less costly method than the traditional probate process.


One of the primary advantages of summary administration is its efficiency. Traditional probate can be a time-consuming and resource-intensive process, often taking several months or even years to complete. In contrast, summary administration is designed to expedite the settlement of smaller estates, allowing heirs and beneficiaries to receive their inheritance more promptly.

No Formal Personal Representative Required

Another notable feature of summary administration is the absence of a personal representative or executor. In traditional probate, a personal representative is appointed to oversee the estate’s administration, manage assets, and distribute them according to the will or applicable state laws. In summary administration, the court’s order itself serves as the authority for the distribution of assets, eliminating the need for a personal representative.

Cost Savings

Summary administration is often more cost-effective than formal probate. The simplified nature of the process means reduced legal fees and administrative costs. This can be particularly advantageous for smaller estates where the expense of a full probate process may be disproportionate to the value of the assets.

How Does Summary Administration Work?

To initiate summary administration, the interested party, often a surviving spouse or an heir, must file a petition with the probate court. The petition typically includes essential information about the deceased person, an inventory of the assets, and a list of the beneficiaries. If the court approves the petition, it issues an order that authorizes the distribution of the estate without the need for a lengthy probate process.

The summary administration process also involves settling the deceased person’s debts and liabilities. Creditors typically have a specific period to file claims against the estate, and the court will ensure that these claims are addressed before finalizing the distribution of assets to beneficiaries.

However, it’s essential to note that summary administration may not be suitable for every situation. If there are disputes among heirs, concerns about the validity of the will, or complex issues surrounding the estate, the court may require a formal probate process to address these matters thoroughly.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for Probate Summary Administration in Florida, the decedent’s estate must meet certain criteria. The two main conditions are:

Value of the Estate

The total value of the probate estate, excluding exempt property and assets that pass outside of probate, should not exceed $75,000.

No Formal Administration in the Last Five Years

The decedent’s estate cannot have undergone a formal administration in the five years preceding their passing.

Initiating the Process

The process typically begins by filing a “Petition for Summary Administration” with the probate court. Yanitza Schoonover emphasizes the importance of seeking legal guidance at this stage to ensure all necessary documentation is accurate and complete.

Key Steps in Probate Summary Administration:

File the Petition

The petitioner, often a surviving spouse or another family member, files the Petition for Summary Administration. This document outlines essential details about the deceased person, the estate’s value, and the proposed distribution.

Notice to Creditors

While formal notice to creditors is not always required, Yanitza Schoonover advises clients to publish a “Notice to Creditors” in a local newspaper. This step alerts potential creditors to the probate proceedings.

Prepare the Proposed Distribution

The petitioner, with legal guidance, prepares a proposed distribution plan. This plan outlines how the assets will be distributed among the heirs and beneficiaries.

Obtain Consent from Beneficiaries

If all beneficiaries and heirs consent to the proposed distribution, the court may move forward with the Summary Administration.

Court Approval

The court reviews the filed documents and, if satisfied, issues an order approving the Summary Administration. This order serves as the legal basis for asset distribution.

Transfer of Assets

With court approval, the identified assets are transferred to the designated beneficiaries. This may involve working with financial institutions, real estate entities, and other relevant parties.

Closing the Estate

Once the assets are distributed, the estate can be closed. Yanitza Schoonover emphasizes the importance of keeping meticulous records throughout the process to ensure compliance with legal requirements.

Summary administration within the probate service offers a faster and more cost-effective alternative for settling small estates. Its efficiency is particularly beneficial for families dealing with the emotional and practical challenges of losing a loved one. However, it’s crucial to assess the specific circumstances of the estate to determine whether summary administration is the most appropriate option. Seeking legal advice can help navigate the complexities of the probate process and ensure that the estate settlement proceeds smoothly and in accordance with applicable laws.

Yanitza Schoonover’s legal expertise extends beyond Probate Summary Administration, encompassing various aspects of estate planning, including wills, trusts, and asset protection strategies. Her commitment to personalized and compassionate legal services ensures that clients receive the support they need during challenging times.