Q: How can I do things like cash a check made out to my deceased father without probate?
I am in Florida. I have the death certificate and a will that specifies me as the executor. There are no non-exempt assets, so nothing going into probate. However I am filing a Petition for Summary Administration anyway because it is my understanding that the Petition to Declare Homestead Property is needed for the house to change names. I have run into several situations where insurance companies, banks, and utilities have told me they need "letters of administration" to tell me anything about my father's accounts, turn off power, or deposit checks. Surely this cannot be the case. I see that other states have something called Affidavit for Small Estate for this purpose but apparently not in Florida. So how does one in my situation go about taking care of these small details without the whole huge expensive, time-consuming, ordeal of formal administration?
A: Once you have filed the summary administration, if it is approved by the probate court, the judge will issue an order granting summary administration. You can present that order to the banks, utilities, etc., and they will then allow you to wrap up the affairs of your father.
A: An order of Summary Administration can be used to distribute a decedent's accounts, however for the Petition, you will need to provide values for the accounts and other assets of the estate in order to determine if the estate qualifies for Summary Administration. Unfortunately many banks and institutions will require Letters of Administration in order to provide this information, and this requires opening a Formal Probate estate. Consult with a probate attorney for more guidance.
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