You may hear from several people in Miami that one of the main reasons why you should not put off your estate planning is to avoid probate. Probate avoidance strategies have been detailed in previous posts on this blog, yet one question you may want to first ask is whether or not an estate that you are party to even needs to be probated. If you have been named as the executor of an estate, you will especially want to know this before becoming consumed with worry about having to go through probate.
If the value of your loved one’s estate is less than $75,000, or he or she has been deceased for more than two years, then his or her estate may be eligible to be dispersed through summary administration. According to the Florida Probate Code, you can initiate this process yourself as the personal representative of an estate, or if you are a beneficiary to it. First, however, you must make a diligent effort to contact all of your loved one’s creditors and ensure that their claims are settled using the estate’s assets.
Once that is done, the estate property can then be passed to the appropriate beneficiaries. It should be remembered, however, that those holding property that is not exempt from creditors’ claims could be held responsible for any debts that have yet to be settled. Their liability would be equal to whatever percentage of the estate they were awarded. However, if two years has passed since your family member or friend’s death, none of his or her beneficiaries may be held liable for any claims that have not already been commenced.
Upon your filing of a petition for summary administration, anyone owing money to your loved one’s estate is also compelled to settle such claims.