You have likely heard estate planning experts in Santa Rosa Beach advise people to plan to avoid probate whenever possible. This is due to the fact that probating an estate can be a long, drawn-out process, requiring multiple hearings and resulting in inordinate legal costs. Those costs are paid directly from estate assets, thus diminishing the amount left to be passed on to beneficiaries. These assumptions may have you automatically preparing to have to deal with such a process when you are party to the estate of a family member or friend. Yet the state does not want to drain one’s estate funds in cases where it does not necessarily have to.
This opens the door to the question of whether the probate process can be bypassed altogether. If by “bypass” you mean completely avoid any court involvement, then the answer is no. Local probate courts will almost be involved in the distribution of estate assets. The process can be expedited, however, through summary administration.
This essentially means that the court recognizes that the relative size of an estate is such that the potential of issues and disputes involving estate assets is unlikely. In this scenario, the court can authorize that estate assets be dispersed to beneficiaries without the need for further legal proceedings. Per Section 735.201 of Florida’s state statutes, for the estate that you have an interest in to qualify for summary administration, it must have a total value (less that which is owed to settle creditors claims) less than $75,000, or your family member or friend must have been deceased for at least two years, In either of these scenarios, you or any other interested party to the estate can petition for a summary administration.