The word “estate” often conjures up images of vast land with garden mazes, statues, and water fountains. This is certainly one way to think of it, but legally, anyone who has property to pass on after death has an estate. This property is not limited to real estate. If you own a car and a vinyl record collection, you have an estate.
Estates come in all shapes and sizes. Normally, they go through a process called “probate” before being passed on to surviving loved ones. Probate, however, is not necessary for all estates. If your assets have little value, your beneficiaries can receive them much quicker.
What Is Probate?
Put simply, probate manages your property after you are gone. Someone must be in charge of this process. This person is called the “executor” of the estate. You can name this person in your will, or they can be court-appointed.
First, the executor manages any leftover debt. Once the creditors are happy, the executor moves on to distributing assets to your inheritors.
If you left a will behind, the executor carries out your wishes, giving your property to those named in the document. This process is not as simple as just handing them the property. Ownership must be officially transferred, and all transactions must be recorded. Depending on the complexity of your estate, probate can take a long time.
Without a will, your assets will fall into intestate succession. The state handles your assets, distributing them to a chain of your closest relatives. First, assets go to your spouse and any children you have. Without a spouse or children, property goes to parents, siblings, and so forth. Probate handles this process, as well.
In legal terms, “summary” means doing something quickly, avoiding the normal processes. Summary administration is a swifter, easier form of probate. Florida estates valued at $75,000 or less enter summary administration.
If your estate falls into this category, your beneficiaries can get their inheritance much quicker. They can simply file a Petition for Summary Administration. From there, the court can expedite probate, and your estate can move on without much hassle.
Summary administration is also available when someone died some time ago. If a loved one learns of a death two years after the incident, they can file for summary administration. This can also apply to a missing person declared dead over two years ago.
Trust Dorcey Law Firm for help with all your estate planning and probate needs. If you have questions about your estate, you can call us today at (239) 309-2870. You can also reach out online.