Formal Probate Administration
Formal administration is the most common form of probate in Florida. Normally if an estate doesn’t qualify for summary administration or one of the other alternatives to probate it has to be formally administered. Formal administration, in general, is required when the decedent has passed more than two years. It is important to consider which assets are included in the administration of the probate estate. Some examples of assets that are not included, are assets titled in a trust, life insurance, and assets with survivorship provisions. Some examples of assets that are included in the probate estate are assets not titled in a trust, in individual names, with no survivorship provisions, personal tangible goods, business or stock ownership in individual names.
There is close court supervision of the collection and distribution of the decedent’s assets. There are normally three steps to the process: opening the estate, administering the estate, and closing the estate. The formal probate process involves the application by a qualified fiduciary to be appointed as personal representative. That person might have to post a bond or the court may require a restricted depository in lieu of a bond. Both the bond and restricted depository are indeed to protect beneficiaries from maladministration, whether it be intentional or accidental.
The formal probate process can take anywhere from 4-6 months to many years, depending on the nature and intricacy of the case and whether litigation is involved.