Summary vs. formal probate administration

Many of the Lee County clients with whom we’ve worked here at the Offices of The Warnock Law Group are unware that there are two potential options when administering an estate through probate. Depending upon the estate, you can choose to go through either summary or formal probate administration. In some cases, your deceased family member or friend may have already elected which process to go through in his or her will. However, if the decision is yours, there are several things to consider before choosing which option to pursue.


First, you need to know if the estate even qualifies for the summary process. According to Florida state law, the value of the estate after taking out liabilities cannot be more than $75,000 in order to qualify. If your family member or friend whose estate it is has been dead for more than two years, his or her estate may also qualify, regardless of its value.

If you’re unfamiliar with the process of estate administration and want to simply get it over with, then the summary administration process may be the best for you. It requires less work due to the fact that no personnel representative need be appointed and the distribution of assets is determined by court order. The entire process takes only a few months, whereas a formal administration can last years.

However, that’s not to say that there aren’t scenarios where a formal probate administration may be the better option. If the estate has a number of creditor claims against it, a formal administration may be best. This allows you as the executor to use the estate’s assets to settle them, rather than having the responsibility fall to the beneficiaries.

Further information on the complexities of estate administration can be found on our site.

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