Summary administration is appropriate where the only assets of the estate are exempt property and the homestead, and the value of all other assets does not exceed $75,000; or where a decedent has been dead for more than 2 years.
If the estate qualifies for Summary Administration based on the former, then a reasonable and diligent search must be made for ascertainable creditors and the petitioner for Summary must provide a plan for payment of those creditors with the non-exempt assets that is satisfactory to the court. To insure that no creditors come forward that were not named in a Summary petition, it is wise to publish a Notice to Creditors and to serve ascertainable creditors with such notice. This limits the creditors to 90 day window to file a claim on the estate or be shut out from payment of their claim. The only way they can be paid is if they can show they were an ascertainable creditor and no Notice to Creditors was ever mailed to them. Creditors, as a general matter, are only paid to the extent that there are non-exempt assets that remain after payment of claims of higher priority (including costs of administration, funeral and last 60 days of the medical and hospital costs associated to the last illness).
If the estate qualifies for Summary based on the decedent’s death occurring more than 2 years prior to filing a Summary Administration petition, creditor claims are barred and not paid, and an order granting Summary Administration and distribution of assets can occur rather rapidly.
Depending on the venue in which a Summary will be filed, an attorney may or may not be required. The cost of Summary administration can vary from firm to firm, but is typically charged as a flat fee.