Formal Administration vs. Summary Administration in Florida

chess.pngThere are to main types of probate administration in Florida: summary administration and formal administration. Summary administration can only be used when the total value of decedent’s assets subject to probate are $75,000 or less, or when the decedent has been dead for more than two years. Formal administration is used for all other estates or whenever a personal representative is required for other purposes.


  1. Preparation of the documents.
  2. Publication of the notice to creditors.
  3. Determination of homestead (if applicable).
  4. Distribution of the funds to creditors and beneficiaries per court order.

Costs and Time Frame: The current court costs are around $400 and publication costs range from $30 to $300, depending on the county and news paper. However, most costs are around $200. The approximate time frame is three to five months – unless extraordinary circumstances occur, like a will contest. Decedent’s estate cannot be closed while litigation is pending.

  • Shorter proceeding than formal administration: three to five months compared to four to twelve.
  • Less work and less expensive than formal administration.
  • Less complicated than formal administration: Summary administration involves less hoops and hurdles than formal administration.


  • A personal representative is not officially appointed: In formal administration, the appointed personal representative is given authority to request all the information he or she needs regarding the decedent’s assets. Without this authority, requesting information regarding decedent’s assets might be a little more challenging.
  • No letters of administration are provided: if you need letters of administration for any reason, or if the estate will be subject to litigation, you should open a formal administration
  • All assets need to be accounted for before filing.


  1. Preparation of the documents.
  2. Appointment of personal representative.
  3. Publication of notice to creditors.
  4. Filing of the inventory of decedent’s estate.
  5. Determination of homestead (if applicable).
  6. Distribution of the assets to creditors and beneficiaries.
  7. Closing of the estate.

Costs and Time Frame: The current costs are $400 plus publication costs that can range from $30 to $300. Depending on the county and newspaper. However, most costs are around $200. The approximate time frame is four to twelve months unless extraordinary circumstances occur: i.e. litigation. The estate cannot be closed while litigation is pending.


  • A personal representative is appointed: with authority to secure information about decedent’s assets or debts.
  • Letters of administration are provided: banks and financial institutions are more comfortable with letters of administrations than with orders of summary administration.
  • Best choice when there are many known creditors.
  • Best choice when decedent’s estate will be subject to litigation.


  • Longer proceeding than summary administration: four to twelve months compared to three to five months.
  • More expensive than summary administration.
  • More work required than in summary administration.

The answer is it depends. There are important variables to consider when making the choice. Every probate case is different, even if the differences are small. For example, some cases require letters of administration, making summary administration not a viable option. Be sure you are making an informed choice. To make an informed choice, contact a probate lawyer. For an attorney in Florida, call the Law Office of David M. Goldman PLLC at (904) 685 – 1200 or click the “Contact Us” tab at the beginning of the page.

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