When you pass away and leave behind a will or other estate planning document, it will go through probate. In essence, this is the process of making sure the will is valid, all debts and taxes are paid and property is distributed properly. In Florida, the main type of probate is formal administration. However, property may be distributed via summary administration as well.

Formal administration is a longer process that is most often necessary for probate. In this scenario, the recently deceased (decedent) has an estate worth more than $75,000, but also has creditors. A personal representative, either the heir named in the will or the closest relative to the decedent, will be named. The representative must file a notice with the creditors that the debtor has passed, giving them a three-month period to claim assets to cover the debt. After that, taxes are paid (if the estate is worth more than $5 million) and the property is distributed according to the will or intestate law.

A summary administration is much simpler, but is limited in its use. If the decedent had few or no creditors and left behind an estate of less than $75,000, this option is available. Any creditors involved will have been paid by a previous provision, typically money left specifically for that purpose. This quick probate process distributes the property in just a few months, while a formal administration can take up to a year or longer.

No matter how your family decides to probate the estate, having an experienced attorney by your side could make the entire much quicker and easier.