When a loved one passes away, one of the important steps in settling their estate is preparing an inventory of assets. This inventory provides a comprehensive list of everything owned by the decedent at the time of their death.
It helps determine whether probate is necessary, calculates any potential estate taxes owed, and ensures assets are distributed according to the decedent’s wishes.
But how detailed does an estate inventory need to be? What should be included? And when does it need to be filed? This guide will explain what is required in a detailed Florida estate inventory.
An estate inventory is a complete list of the decedent’s assets and their values as of the date of death. Here are some of the main categories of assets that must be included:
Any real property owned by the decedent must be listed in the inventory, including their primary residence, rental properties, vacant land, timeshares, etc.
For each real estate asset, include:
- Address and parcel ID number
- Type of property
- Fair market value
- Whether it was owned solely by the decedent or jointly with others
- Copy of the deed
The inventory should list all bank accounts held individually or jointly by the decedent, including checking, savings, money market, and CDs. Note the name of each financial institution, account numbers, account type, balance on the date of death, and whether any beneficiaries are designated.
All investment accounts like brokerage accounts, IRAs, 401(k)s, annuities, and pensions that are owned by the decedent must be included. Provide statements showing account numbers, institutions, account types, balances, and designated beneficiaries.
Life insurance policies owned by the decedent payable to their estate or heirs should be listed. Include details like the insurance company, policy number, death benefit amount, beneficiaries, and cash value, if any.
Cars, boats, RVs, and other vehicles registered to the decedent need to be inventoried. Provide the vehicle make, model, year, VIN, title ownership information, and estimated market value.
List major household items, antiques, jewelry, art, collections, equipment, and any other valuable personal possessions of the deceased, along with their estimated values.
Any outstanding loans or debts owed to the decedent must also be included, indicating who owes the debt, the original amount, and the current outstanding balance.
If the decedent owned a business, whether wholly or partially, it should be listed along with the estimated value of their ownership interest in it.
Other assets like tax refunds due, claims and causes of action pending, mineral rights, digital assets, intellectual property rights, trusts the decedent was a beneficiary of, and any other property interest should also be included in the inventory.
Accurately documenting all of the decedent’s assets and their values provides a complete picture of the estate. This helps determine what goes through probate and whether any estate taxes are owed.
If the decedent had a will, the executor named in the will is responsible for preparing and filing the inventory with the probate court. For an estate without a will, the court-appointed estate administrator will handle the inventory.
The preparation process involves locating statements and documentation for the decedent’s accounts, researching titles and deeds, obtaining appraisals for valuations, and compiling a comprehensive list.
Here are some tips for preparing an accurate estate inventory for probate:
- Work with an estate planning attorney – They can help you understand what must be included and ensure you meet all legal requirements.
- Gather documentation – Collect financial statements, titles, deeds, and other documentation to support the assets.
- Determine fair market value – For real estate, vehicles, and personal property, appraisals might be needed to determine current fair market value.
- Differentiate probate vs non-probate assets – Assets like trusts, joint bank accounts, life insurance payouts to named beneficiaries, etc., do not go through probate and can be listed separately.
- Inventory safe deposit box – Include any contents found in the decedent’s safe deposit box in the inventory.
- Document everything – Keep detailed notes about the inventory process and maintain supporting statements and appraisals.
- Use proper inventory forms – Most probate courts provide inventory filing forms to standardize estate reporting.
While it takes time and effort, an accurate and thorough estate inventory can make administering the estate much easier down the road.
In Florida, the executor or estate administrator is required to file a formal inventory with the probate court within 60 days from when they are appointed. This inventory provides the court with a snapshot of assets potentially subject to probate.
A more detailed itemized inventory is then usually provided to beneficiaries when the executor provides the accounting of the estate administration. This gives beneficiaries an overview of the assets that existed at the time of death, income earned, any decreases in value, expenses paid, and proposed distributions.
Beneficiaries can review the inventory and accounting and raise any objections before the final settlement of the estate. Ensuring an accurate and adequately detailed inventory is critical to avoid delays in closing probate.
Preparing an estate inventory is a complex process that must adhere to Florida’s strict probate laws. Without proper legal help, errors or omissions in the inventory can lead to serious consequences during probate.
The skilled estate planning and probate attorneys at Stivers Law in Coral Gables can guide you. They will review the decedent’s assets, determine inventory requirements, handle appraisals, file timely and accurate inventories with the court, and help avoid any complications during probate.
With offices in Coral Gables, they represent clients across greater Miami dealing with wills, trusts, probate, and estate administration. Contact their office for a consultation today.