Florida Probate Law: The Need For A Thorough List Of Assets
When someone dies and an executor is appointed by the probate court, one of the first duties of the executor will be to take a thorough inventory of estate assets. These assets can include real estate, personal property, corporate stock and een intangible property such as copyrights. Under the Florida Probate Rules, the executor must normally file an inventory within 60 days of being appointed by the probate court.
The inventory must list all property that is included in probate, and it must provide an estimated fair market value at the date of death for every item except cash. The fair market value must have been calculated based on rational criteria (it cannot be arbitrary or “just a guess”). The executor must swear that the inventory is accurate to the best of his knowledge.
Any “interested person” (someone who stands to gain or lose depending on how the estate is probated) can demand a description of how the fair market value was calculated. The accuracy of the inventory can be challenged in court, and the executor can be prosecuted for deliberate misrepresentations.
Probate vs Non-Probate Assets
The executory’s duty to inventory extends only to probate assets, not to non-probate assets other than the homestead exemption. It does not extend, for example, to:
- The contents of living trusts;
- Retirement accounts;
- Life insurance proceeds; and
- Many other types of non-probate assets.
The Homestead Exemption
Your home is a Florida homestead of you own it and if you reside there as a primary residence (rather than, say, using it seasonally as a vacation cottage). A mobile home can qualify as a homestead even if you don’t own the land upon which it sits. Although the homestead is considered non-probate property, it must be listed in the inventory and clearly identified as exempt homestead property.
Real Property Located Outside of Florida
If the estate includes real property that is located outside of Florida, it is not subject to Florida probate proceedings because a Florida probate court has no jurisdiction over it. Depending on the law of the state where the property is located, however, you may have to open probate proceedings in that state.
Calculating the “Fair Market Value”
The fair market value, or FMV, is the amount that the item would sell for on the open market. In the case of real estate, for example, you might need a professional real estate appraiser to determine the FMV. For a vehicle, on the other hand, you might start with the Blue Book value. Other items might not be so easy to appraise. In no case is the subjective sentimental value of, say, a family heirloom, a relevant consideration.
Contact Lorenzo Law Today
Jose Lorenzo, founder of Lorenzo Law, is a Florida estate planning and probate lawyer with a stellar reputation. Although our firm maintains offices in Coral Gables and Ft. Lauderdale, we serve clients throughout the state of Florida. We can be reached by telephone at (305) 999-5411, through our online intake form, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting one of our offices.