Formal administration is the most common type of Florida probate proceeding, followed by summary administration. But there are a few other alternatives to Florida probate that may apply in limited circumstances. These alternatives include ancillary administration (which may or may not require formal administration) and disposition without administration.
Florida Probate: Ancillary Administration
Ancillary administration is the administration of the estate of an out-of-state resident who leaves real or personal property in Florida, has credits due him from Florida residents, or has liens on property in Florida.
From a procedural perspective, ancillary administration is similar to formal administration. The primary distinction is that, with an ancillary administration, there are multiple court proceedings. These multiple court proceedings are a matter of jurisdiction. Each state only has jurisdiction over real estate located within that state’s borders. One estate (the domiciliary estate) is opened in the state where the decedent lived. The other estate, which is opened in Florida, is the ancillary proceeding. If the decedent owned property in other states, other ancillary proceedings may be necessary.
In two situations, a Florida ancillary probate can be completed without formal administration. First, if the decedent has already had a probate proceeding in another jurisdiction and leaves only real estate in Florida, then the real property can be distributed without administration. All that is required is for any person to file a petition to admit the foreign will to record. This must be done after the discharge of the domiciliary personal representative or after two years from the death of the decedent. After the petition is admitted, the will passes title or interest to the real property in Florida as if by probate.
Second, a formal proceeding is not required if the decedent’s Florida property is worth $50,000 or less. After the domiciliary probate has concluded, the personal representative can file an authenticated transcript of the domiciliary proceeding to validate the will and identify the beneficiaries of the estate.
Florida Probate: Disposition Without Administration
No formal proceeding is required if the decedent’s estate leaves only personal property, and the property is either (1) exempt under certain Florida laws; (2) exempt from the claims of creditors as part of the homestead under the Florida Constitution; or (3) worth no more than the sum of the amount of preferred funeral expenses and reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses of the last sixty days of the decedent’s last illness.
Eligibility for disposition without administration is shown by supporting documents, including copies of medical bills, funeral bills, and a description of the property owned by the decedent. If the court decides that the assets may be disposed of without an administration, it will issue a formal authorization of the transfer of assets to the persons entitled to receive them.