When an individual dies, there are various ways in which his or her estate may be administered under Florida Law. Of all the various types of Florida probate proceedings (legal processes in which the decedent’s properties are collected and distributed among creditors and beneficiaries), formal administration is the most common, most comprehensive, and many times the longest. Whether formal administration is the most convenient or appropriate for your case depends on a variety of factors, such as the size of the estate, the decedent’s asset profile, the number of creditors and beneficiaries, and whether any disputes exist that may lead to estate litigation.
The Miller Elder Law Firm, PA focuses on the area of Elder Law and understand that the passing of a loved one presents many emotional challenges. Allow our caring and experienced Elder Law attorneys to assist you in the matters of estate administration so that you may have more time to spend with your family during this process. Contact the Miller Elder Law Firm, PA to ensure your loved one’s estate is managed with a proper estate administration proceeding by calling (352) 379-1900 or contact us online (millerelderlawfirm.com).
Characteristics of a Formal Administration
Whether Formal Administration is the appropriate estate proceeding for your loved one’s estate is a matter that only the assistance of a competent Elder Law attorney may help you determine. Some of the characteristics pertinent to the appropriateness of a Formal Administration include:
● Decedent’s estate exceeds $75,000(not counting exempt assets).
● Decedent has been dead for less than two years.
● The will specifically requires formal administration.
● There are significant creditors or creditors are unknown.
● There is conflict among beneficiaries.
● The process lasts a minimum of five months, and can last up to twelve months.
Understanding the Formal Administration Process
Depending on the size of the estate, the number of creditors and beneficiaries, the existence of a valid will, and other circumstances, the Formal Administration process will vary. The following are general guidelines that comprise a Formal Administration process in a probate proceeding under Florida law:
1. Deposit of Will: A custodian of a Florida Last Will and Testament must deposit the decedent’s will with the court within ten days of learning of the testator’s death.
2. Petition for Estate Administration: Any interested person reasonably expected to be affected by the outcome of the proceedings must file a petition for formal administration of an estate, and request that the court appoint a Personal Representative.
3. Appointment of Personal Representative: This person is in charge of collecting the decedent’s assets, determining creditors, and managing the estate among creditors and beneficiaries.
4. Petition to Open Safe Deposit Box: This will authorize access to the decedent’s confidential keepings, such as a safe deposit box, in case the will cannot be found among his or her personal effects.
5. Establishment of the Validity of the Will: Upon validation of a will according to Florida law or the oath of an attesting witness, the will is submitted to probate proceedings.
6. Notification to Creditors: The Personal Representative must send written notice to known or reasonably ascertainable creditors and must publish notice in the newspaper to notify unknown creditors.
7. Collection of Assets: The Personal Representative collects and makes an inventory of the decedent’s assets, and distributes the assets to creditors and beneficiaries, as regulated by the Last Will and Testament and Florida law.
8. Accounting: Upon completion of the estate administration, the Personal Representative must make an accounting of the actions undertaken while administering the estate, unless waived by the beneficiaries.
9. Closing of the Estate: The Personal Representative files a petition for discharge of the estate.
10. Reopening of the Estate: A court may reopen the estate if additional property is discovered, or if the court determines that further administration is necessary.