Because it can be a lengthy and expensive process, avoiding probate is an estate planning goal for many people. Florida law provides two ways to settle small estates without going through the probate process.
How do small estates avoid probate and which estates qualify?
Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration
Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration is a procedure that allows the beneficiaries of some small estates to settle the estate without going through probate. However, only estates that do not exceed the cost of the deceased person’s funeral expenses and medical expenses for the previous 60 days qualify.
If the deceased person did not have a will, the most their estate can be worth to qualify is $10,000. Surviving children and spouses can exclude some assets from the estate size cap. This method of settling the estate allows the family of the deceased person to recover funeral and medical expenses quickly.
Florida estates that are too large for Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration may qualify for summary administration if the value of the estate is $75,000 or less. However, if the deceased person’s will specifically requests formal probate administration, the beneficiaries can not choose summary administration instead. This method is less expensive and quicker than formal administration of probate and can transfer personal property and real estate almost immediately after a person’s death.
Settling small estates quickly and economically is critical for many families. Despite the limitations, for those who qualify, these methods of disposing of a small estate can save a significant amount of time and money versus going through probate.