Is summary administration always the better way when available?

  • Posted by Bruce McDonald
  • February 10, 2017
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Sometimes it is not practical to use a summary administration even if it is an option. Examples:

  • The Will leaves the property to a large number of beneficiaries, each of whom would have to sign the contract to sell as well as the deed and other closing papers.
  • If some of the beneficiaries are minors, guardianships may have to be set up and maintained until the minor reaches adulthood, but in a formal estate the personal representative may be able to avoid that through the Florida Uniform Transfers to Minors Act.
  • Sometimes, the whereabouts of one or more of the beneficiaries are unknown. Formal probate administration can accommodate a missing heir. Summary administration cannot.
  • If one of the beneficiaries refuses to cooperate with the other owners, formal administration may be needed in order to sell the property. The alternative is a "partition" lawsuit by one or more owners, the costs of which are likely to exceed formal probate costs.

If a formal administration is needed after the second anniversary of death, certain steps related to creditors are no longer required and for that reason the fees and costs may not be that much more expensive than a summary administration.