As you plan your estate, you may want to help your heirs avoid the probate process. In Florida, some estates qualify for simplified probate, a process known as summary administration.

Review the requirements to learn more about whether your estate will require simplified or formal probate.

Summary administration eligibility

Your estate must be worth less than $75,000 in probate assets to qualify for simplified probate. In addition, your executor or survivors can automatically qualify your estate for summary administration if they file more than two years after your death. Summary administration can take just a few days, but more often takes a few months (compared to up to a year or more for formal probate.

Simplified vs. formal probate

Your executor can start this process by filing the Petition for Summary Administration. All your inheritors and your surviving spouse must also sign this petition, which will list all your assets and the beneficiary and value of each and also include your will.

If the court accepts the petition, your heirs can collect their inheritance without court oversight. The executor must also provide a copy of the petition to all possible creditors of the estate, who have three months to make a claim against it.

The formal probate process tends to cost more than simplified probate, which carries only a filing fee of up to $400 in most Florida counties. When an estate requires formal probate, the court will supervise the executor as he or she pays debts and taxes, values and gathers estate property, and distributes it to your heirs.