What Is “Disposition Without Administration” In Florida?
Probate is the formal legal process for administering the assets of a deceased individual. In Florida, there are several different methods for accomplishing probate. The first is formal administration, which is where the court appoints a personal representative to open an estate. The formal administration process typically lasts several months and is what most people commonly think of when they think of probate.
The second method is summary administration. This is a less formal probate proceeding that is generally employed when the estate has less than $75,000 in assets or the decedent passed away more than two years ago. With summary administration, the court does not appoint a personal representative and the process can usually be completed in just a few weeks.
The third and final method is disposition without administration. This is a process governed by Section 735.301 of the Florida Statutes. Basically, it covers a situation where the decedent–the person who died–left only assets that are not subject to creditor claims and just enough money to cover their funeral and final medical bills.
Section 735.501 states that no formal probate administration is necessary when the decedent’s estate is only composed of the following:
- up to $1,000 in personal property–i.e., not real estate–which is automatically exempt from creditor claims under the Florida Constitution;
- property otherwise exempt from creditor claims under Section 732.402 of the Florida Statutes, which includes up to $20,000 in household furnishings;
- non-exempt personal property that does not exceed the decedent’s preferred funeral expenses and the “necessary” medical and hospital expenses incurred during the last 60 days of their final illness.
To give a hypothetical example, say Alicia died leaving only a couple of thousand dollars in her checking account. She rented her apartment, so she did not own real estate, just some personal furnishings. If the cost of Alicia’s final hospital bill and funeral exceeded what was in the checking account, then a disposition without administration would be appropriate.
More precisely, the person who paid the funeral bill could file a Petition for Disposition of Personal Property Without Administration, essentially asking for reimbursement from the decedent’s property. If the petition is approved, the property is disbursed without the need for any probate administration. If the funeral bill has not been paid, the property can be disbursed directly to the funeral home.
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Disposition without administration is not appropriate when the decedent left more non-exempt personal property than is necessary to pay the funeral and final medical bills. Nor is it an option if the decedent owned any real property in their own name. In these cases, either formal or summary administration is required.
If you have additional questions or concerns about the Florida probate process, it is a good idea to seek out qualified legal advice. An experienced St. Petersburg probate and trust administration lawyer can review your situation and advise you on the best course of action moving forward. Contact Legacy Protection Lawyers, LLP, today to schedule a consultation.