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Formal Administration Vs. Summary Administration In Florida

A summary or formal administration comes in handy in case of a death of a person who owns assets that do not have any payable on death provision or any joint owner whatsoever. Even if the death of such a person occurs who owns real property devoid of any survivorship provision, a summary or formal administration is needed. A Florida probate attorney can help you in such circumstances.

Such cases involve a petitioner who puts forward a request to the court to give an order for fair distribution of the assets to all of its rightful beneficiaries. Summary administration is to be preferred when the overall value of the decedent’s property and assets related to probate is not more than $75,000, or when the decedent is no more for over two years. On the other hand, Formal administration has to be preferred for all other estates or in cases where a personal representative is needed for miscellaneous purposes.


In summary administration, on the completion of preparation of the documents, all the beneficiaries are supposed to obtain the execution of all the documents. In cases where it’s not more than two years since the decedent’s death, and if there’s homestead property, publication of the notice to creditors is essential. Finally, determination of homestead if required, followed by final distribution of the funds to the creditors and beneficiaries in compliance with the court’s order, has to be done.

Whereas, in formal administration, after preparation of the documents and execution of the same by beneficiaries, an appointment of a personal representative is ensured. Apart from the publication of notice to creditors, the subsequent procedure may include filing the decedent’s estate inventory, determination of homestead, ultimate tax returns, and sale of property if required. Only after all this, payment is made to creditors and asset distribution amongst the beneficiaries takes place. This is how the closing of an estate takes place through formal administration.

Cost And Time

When it comes to summary administration, the cost ranges from $400 to $500 and other kinds of expenses may give rise to this tally. The process takes about three to six months approximately – except under extraordinary circumstances, such as a will contest, where the case is required to be changed to a Formal Administration.

It’s imperative to know that a decedent’s estate can’t be closed in the case of pending litigation. In the case of formal administration, however, the costs can go over $500 and the processing time can be of around 6 to 18 months tentatively.

Pros And Cons

Summary and formal administration each come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Summary administration means a shorter time frame as compared to formal administration, and it is less expensive and is generally less complex than formal administration as the documental formalities required are quite less. On the other hand, formal administration is all about extended processing time, greater expenses and more workload and documentation.

In formal administration, a personal representative is appointed who is given the authority to request all the required information concerning the decedent’s assets. Without this authority, requesting for information related to the decedent’s assets can be a challenge. This is because institutions are legally bound to reserve information if you are not the personal representative. Even if the will names a personal representative, only a court order of a personal representative’s appointment can officially enable the commencement of the proceedings. Official appointment of a personal representative is not done in the case of summary administration. Also, in summary administration, no Letters of Administration are provided. If at all you require the same or if the estate will be subject to litigation, a summary administration will not be sufficient.

To decide which category of administration will be the best and the most apt for your case, you should get in touch with a probate lawyer in Florida. Making a good choice matters the most. You should look for an experienced probate attorney in Florida, thereby facilitating yourself with the most efficacious legal advice.