If you are the personal representative of a Florida estate, one of your duties is to file an inventory of the estate with the court. This inventory is a list of all the assets that belong to the probate estate. But, what exactly should you include in the inventory? And, how do you determine the value of each asset?
Why do you need an inventory?
An inventory is required by Florida law (Rule 5.340 of the Florida Probate Rules), but it is a requirement for several reasons. First, an inventory informs the probate court and the interested parties (heirs, beneficiaries, creditors, etc.) of the scope and value of the estate. Second, it helps you manage and protect the estate assets during probate.
Moreover, an inventory provides a basis for calculating fees and taxes. This can include attorney’s fees, personal representative’s fees (what you are paid), estate taxes, etc. It can also help resolve disputes or claims.
What should you include in the inventory?
The inventory should include all estate assets. Generally, this includes the assets that were owned by the decedent solely or as a tenant in common with others. This can include bank and investment accounts, CDs, life insurance policies and retirement accounts with no designated beneficiary or payable to the estate, vehicles, boats, etc.
What is not included?
The inventory should not include assets that are not part of the probate estate. This is those assets that were owned by the decedent jointly with others with rights of survivorship or that had a designated beneficiary or a payable on death clause. Generally, these include joint bank accounts, jointly owned real estate, trust assets, etc.
A detailed description is required
According to Rule 5.340, the inventory should list the estate’s assets with reasonable detail. That description must include an estimated fair market value at the date of the decedent’s death for each item. Homestead property should be listed and designated.
The inventory description must also contain notice of the beneficiaries’ rights under subdivision (e) of Rule 5.340. That section gives them the right to request a written explanation or a copy of any appraisals.
How do you value assets?
Value is done by estimating the asset’s fair market value at the date of death. The IRS defines fair market value as the price at which property would change hands between a buyer and a seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or sell and both having reasonable knowledge of relevant facts.