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  • Writer's pictureLauren A. Merritt, P.A.

What is Formal Administration?

Updated: Dec 17, 2020

Formal administration is a type of probate proceeding used for administering larger estates when a person dies with probate assets.

Non-Exempt Probate Assets over $75,000

In Florida, a formal administration is required when the estate’s non-exempt probate assets are valued at more than $75,000.

Examples of “exempt” property not counted when calculating the value of the probate estate include:

  • Homestead property;

  • Household furniture, furnishing, and appliances in the decedent’s home up to $20,000;

  • Two motor vehicles;

  • Qualified tuition programs under the Florida Prepaid College Trust Fund; and

  • Certain statutory educator death benefits.

Examples of non-probate assets not counted when calculating the value of the probate estate include:

  • Property held in a revocable trust;

  • Property that is held in joint tenancy or as tenants by the entirety;

  • Bank or brokerage accounts held in joint tenancy or with payable on death (POD) or transfer on death (TOD) beneficiaries; and

  • Any life insurance policy, annuity contract, or individual retirement account that lists beneficiaries other than the decedent or the estate as the beneficiary.

Personal Representative

The court appoints a personal representative and issues Letters of Administration. The personal representative is tasked with overseeing administration of the estate. The Letters of Administration give the personal representative legal authority to act on behalf of the estate.

**A personal representative is not appointed in a summary administration.**

Notice of Administration

The personal representative is responsible for filing a Notice of Administration with the court and serving the notice on the decedent’s surviving spouse, beneficiaries, any applicable trustees, and persons entitled to exempt property. The Notice of Administration puts interested persons on notice that the estate in pending.

Notice and Payment to Creditors

Florida law requires the personal representative to file a Notice to Creditors with the court and to publish the notice in a local newspaper for two consecutive weeks. Creditors will have statutorily prescribed timeframes within which to file claims against the estate. The personal representative is responsible for objecting to claims, when necessary, and for paying valid claims using estate funds, when funds are available.


The personal representative must prepare and file an Inventory of the estate’s assets and must serve the inventory the decedent's surviving spouse, intestate heirs, residuary beneficiaries, and any other interested person who requests it in writing.

Distribution of Assets

After the estate creditors have been satisfied, the personal representative gets court approval to distribute the remaining estate assets to the estate beneficiaries or heirs.

Petition for Discharge

When all of the personal representative’s duties are complete, he or she can petition the court to be released from his or her responsibilities to the estate. Looking for guidance on the steps to take after a loved one dies in Florida?

If you have probate questions, email me at or give me a call at (850) 741-2999. Lauren A. Merritt, P.A. 111 S. De Villiers Street, Ste. B Pensacola, FL 32502

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