Chapter 733 of the Florida Statutes, titled “Administration of Estates” governs probate administration. In Florida there are two types of probate: Formal administration and Summary administration. Formal administration is required when the decedent's estate is valued at more than $75,000. Summary administration is a simplified form of probate used for estates which assets do not exceed $75,000 or when the decedent has been deceased for more than two years. In contrast, no administration or formal proceeding is required if the estate of a decedent leaves only personal property exempt under the provisions of §732.402; this process is known as disposition without administration. The following is a simplified version of the probate process.
Opening an estate includes:
- If administration is necessary, a petition for order of appointment of personal representative must be filed.
- If there is a will, a petition must be filed with the court admitting the will and any codicils to probate and for appointment of personal representative.
- A personal representative must file an oath of personal representative; and, if required an agent's bond.
- Furthermore, the personal representative must serve notice of the impending estate administration to all interested parties including family members, beneficiaries, trustees, and publishing notice for any potential creditors.
Closing the estate includes:
- Once the personal representative has fully administered the estate, all claims which were presented have been paid, settled, or otherwise disposed of, and the taxes and expenses of administration have been paid, the Florida probate court may conclude that estate administration is complete and a petition to close the estate must be filed.
- The personal representative must provide a formal accounting of all actions taken during the administration of the estate in order to provide a clear record of how all assets were distributed.
- The court will then approve the accounting and, after distribution is complete, discharge the personal representative and close the estate.