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What are the alternatives to formal probate?

As we've made clear on our blog time and time again, probate can prove to be an incredibly complex process requiring both time and money, and a significant investment of emotional energy by loved ones.

While we've also discussed how the execution of certain estate planning instruments -- i.e., trusts -- can allow a person to avoid probate altogether, the question naturally arises as to whether there are any abbreviated alternatives to the formal probate administration process.

As it turns out, Florida law provides two such options essentially designed to help avoid formal probate: disposition without administration and summary administration.

What is disposition without administration?

Disposition without administration is a process whereby a person's small estate can avoid probate provided their assets meet the following criteria:

  • They do not include any real estate
  • They are exempt from the claims of creditors
  • Their total value does not exceed the amount of final expenses for thier funeral arrangements, and medical care/hospital expenses incurred in the 60 days prior to their passing

Can a person who helped pay for these funeral arrangements and/or medical care seek reimbursement from the estate?

Yes, Florida law does permit a person to seek reimbursement from the assets of the estate for these expenses.

How would a person go about doing this?

There is a form available both on the websites of many circuit courts and via the office of the clerk of the court called "Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration” that must be filled out and filed for a small fee.  

The filer should be prepared to provide receipts and itemized bills outlining their expenses, as well as a certified copy of the death certificate and other pertinent documents.  

If you have questions about the probate process, including how to avoid it, please consider speaking with an experienced legal professional who can answer your questions and help you fully understand your options.

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