When someone dies owning property subject to probate in Florida, the appropriate court must determine whether the decedent’s entire estate must go through probate. One of the primary steps of any probate process in Florida is to identify, assess, and value all the decedent’s probate assets.
Read on to find out how to value probate property in Florida.
Probate Property Valuation in Florida – Who is Responsible for Valuing Probate Assets?
In Florida, there are two types of probate – summary administration and formal administration. If the value of the decedent’s estate does exceed $75,000 worth of probate assets, it can be through summary administration.
In such cases, one of the decedent’s loved ones or the person who submitted the will must file a petition for summary administration. This process requires only a few weeks, which allows the beneficiaries to receive their fair share much faster.
If the decedent has been dead for less than two years or the value of the decedent’s estate exceeds 75,000 worth of probate assets, it must go through formal administration. In formal administration, the court will designate a personal representative (executor) to handle the estate.
One of the executor’s duties is to identify and collect the decedent’s assets and calculate the value of all assets subject to probate. This duty encompasses not only real estate but also bank accounts, savings, pensions, life insurance policies, stocks, debts, and even gifts made to beneficiaries before the decedent’s death.
How to Value Probate Property in Florida? – Step-by-Step
Inventorying the Decedent’s Assets
The first step to valuing a decedent’s estate subject to probate is to collect and list all assets owned at the time of his or her death. With a full list in hand, the executor can exclude non-probate assets (e.g., trust property) and focus exclusively on probate property.
Valuing Probate Real Estate
When an estate is subject to probate in Florida, the decedent likely died owning real estate. Generally, real property is the most expensive asset in most lists of probate assets, which requires special attention.
An executor has different options to value a house for probate purposes. Some individuals simply compare the value of a house with similar properties in the area, while others prefer to hire a professional appraiser for superior price accuracy.
- To determine which valuation method you want to rely on, it is fundamental to identify:
- The extent of the decedent’s estate in terms of size and value
- The potential debt/tax burden associated with the decedent’s estate
- Whether the property is marital property or jointly owned property
- Complex circumstances (e.g., zoning laws, disputes between heirs, clouded title, etc.)
Valuing Other Probate Assets
Florida probate court appoints a personal representative by issuing Letters of Administration. With Letters of Administration in hand, the executor of an estate has the authority to access and handle different types of assets, from bank accounts to business interests held in the decedent’s name.
The more assets an estate has, the more complex the executor’s work tends to be. The best approach is to rely on expert legal guidance not only to value probate assets but easily navigate the whole process.