The Florida probate process takes a different amount of time based upon the type of probate.  There are two main types of probate in Florida: a formal probate administration and a summary probate administration. There is also a disposition without administration that is available in very limited circumstances.

The formal probate administration usually takes 6-9 months under most circumstances - start to finish. This process includes appointing a personal representative (i.e., the "executor"), a 90 days creditor's period that must run, payment of creditor's claims and more. One important distinction on probate is that the personal representative, once appointed by the probate court upon petition by an attorney, has the ability to manage and sell the estate assets. This means that while the probate process can take a number of months, the estate assets can be sold and managed effectively.  Once the 90 day creditor's period runs (starting at the date of publication in a newspaper), the estate can generally start to be closed down with the personal representative following a strict process to close the estate.

The summary probate administration, usually reserved for small estates worth less than $75,000 that have no debt, can take less than a month under the right circumstances. In the summary administration, you need all of the beneficiaries to consent to the petition (under most circumstances). Once you have everyone's consent, once the summary petition to the court is submitted, the order of summary administration generally takes about 2-3 weeks (depending upon the county) to get back from the court. The order of summary administration will give the heirs access to the assets subject to the court order. An example of the court order is as follows:

Mom's last will and testament gave assets equally to the 2 children. Mom died without any debt (credit cards, medical bills, etc.). She owned a bank account with $20,000 and a life insurance policy of $8,000 that did not have a beneficiary. Upon petition to the probate court (typically done with an attorney), the court will grant the Order of Summary Administration. With the order, the bank and the life insurance company will release these funds equally to the two children.

If your loved one died with assets in their own, individual name, then they will likely need to seek an attorney to deal with the probate/process. We have a lot more information on the Florida probate process on our website.  In the formal administration, you must have an attorney. In the summary administration, getting an attorney's assistance would be very, very helpful.  Summary administrations can be complicated so an attorney's help would make things so much easier for families.

If your loved one passed away and someone is telling you that assets need to be probated, you may want to download our free book on Navigating the Florida Probate Process.  This book will walk you through the Florida probate process, how to hire an attorney, if you need to hire an attorney, and other helpful hints.

D. Rep DeLoach III
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Estate Planning and Board Certified Elder Law Attorney