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Florida Probate Statute 733.604: Inventories and Accountings; Public Records Exemptions

When someone passes away a personal representative is appointed by the Florida probate court to manage the activities required to settle the decedent’s estate. The responsibilities of the personal representative start with identifying estate assets, appraising them, and safeguarding them. As part of this process, the personal representative must create an inventory of the assets that are part of the probate estate and file it with the probate court. To learn more about the process of inventorying an estate, including the requirements of Florida Statutes, section 733.604- Inventories and accountings; public records exemptions, contact a skilled Fort Lauderdale estate attorney at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates who has the experience and skill to ensure that the inventory requirements of the Florida Probate Code are followed.

Inventorying an Estate

Once the personal representative takes control of the estate, he (or she) must account for each item that is part of the decedent’s estate and assess its value. This information must be compiled into an inventory that must be filed with the probate court. The inventory should include the decedent’s real estate, personal property, and bank accounts. In addition to estate assets, the inventory should also include debts of the estate.

Florida has a form on that the personal representative should use for completing the inventory. The form requires the following information:

  • Real estate located in Florida- exempt homestead
  • Real estate located in Florida- non-exempt homestead
  • Other real estate located in Florida
  • Real estate located outside of Florida
  • Personal property (wherever located)

As an experienced Fort Lauderdale estate lawyer will explain, a decedent’s estate may include probate property, as well as non-probate property. Only probate assets should be included in the inventory. This would include only bank accounts and brokerage accounts that do not include a pay on death (POD) or transfer on death (TOD) designation, or which are not jointly titled with right of survivorship. Life insurance policies payable to a named beneficiary would not be included as a probate asset, nor would retirement accounts such as 401(k) plans, IRAs, and ESOPs that have designated beneficiaries.

Real estate that the decedent co-owns with another person or persons would not be probate property if it is owned as joint tenants with right of survivorship. If the real estate is homestead property, it is not technically a probate asset, but Florida still requires that homestead property be listed in a separate section of the inventory. Real estate outside of Florida, though not a Florida probate asset, is also required to be listed in a separate part of the inventory form.

The fair market value of all of the property as of the date of the decedent’s death must be included on the inventory form. As an experienced estate attorney in Fort Lauderdale will explain, the inventory must include an accurate value. It may be necessary to involve professional appraisers for high value, or unusual assets to ensure that the appraisal is accurate.

Inventories and Accountings; Public Records Exemptions

The Probate Code has special requirements related to estate inventories. Under Florida Statutes, section 733.604- Inventories and accountings; public records exemptions, such an inventory must remain confidential. However, it can be disclosed to the personal representative, to the personal representative’s attorney, or to an interested person.

If mistakes are discovered in the inventory filed with the probate court, the personal representative must file a verified amended or supplementary inventory with the court along with details of the change to the inventory.

In addition, a beneficiary has the right to request from the personal representative, in writing, an explanation for how the inventory value for certain assets was determined.

Other Duties of the Personal Representative

In addition to inventorying, appraising, and safeguarding estate assets, the personal representative has additional responsibilities. The personal representative must pay estate debts. This may include any debts of the decedent that were unpaid at the time of his (or her) death. It also includes the decedent’s funeral expenses and expenses related to managing the decedent’s estate. The personal representative must pay any taxes owed by the decedent or the estate, as well as file tax forms. Claims may be filed against the estate, and the estate may have claims against others. The personal representative must follow through and make sure such claims are settled.

One of the final responsibilities of the personal representative is to distribute the assets that remain in the estate after debts and expenses are paid to the beneficiaries named in the will, or to the decedent’s legal heirs.

Related Statutory Provisions
  1. General definitions: § 731.201, Fla. Stat.
  2. General duties: § 733.602, Fla. Stat.
  3. Opening safe-deposit box: § 733.6065, Fla. Stat.
  4. Possession of estate: § 733.607, Fla. Stat.
733.604 Inventories and Accountings; Public Records Exemptions.
  1. Unless an inventory has been previously filed, a personal representative shall file a verified inventory of property of the estate, listing it with reasonable detail and including for each listed item its estimated fair market value at the date of the decedent’s death.
    1. Any inventory of an estate, whether initial, amended, or supplementary, filed with the clerk of the court in conjunction with the administration of an estate is confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution.
  2. Any inventory of an elective estate, whether initial, amended, or supplementary, filed with the clerk of the court in conjunction with an election made in accordance with part II of chapter 732 is confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution.
  3. Any accounting, whether interim, final, amended, or supplementary, filed with the clerk of court in an estate proceeding is confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution.
  4. Any inventory or accounting made confidential and exempt by subparagraph 1., subparagraph 2., or subparagraph 3. shall be disclosed by the custodian for inspection or copying:
    1. To the personal representative;
    2. To the personal representative’s attorney;
    3. To an interested person as defined in s. 731.201; or
    4. By court order upon a showing of good cause.
  5. These exemptions apply to any inventory or accounting filed before, on, or after July 1, 2009.
    1. If the personal representative learns of any property not included in the original inventory, or learns that the estimated value or description indicated in the original inventory for any item is erroneous or misleading, the personal representative shall file a verified amended or supplementary inventory showing any new items and their estimated value at the date of the decedent’s death, or the revised estimated value or description.
    2. Upon written request to the personal representative, a beneficiary shall be furnished a written explanation of how the inventory value for an asset was determined, or, if an appraisal was obtained, a copy of the appraisal, as follows:
      1. To a residuary beneficiary or heir in an intestate estate, regarding all inventoried assets.
      2. To any other beneficiary, regarding all assets distributed or proposed to be distributed to that beneficiary.

    The personal representative must notify each beneficiary of that beneficiary’s rights under this subsection. Neither a request nor the failure to request information under this subsection affects any rights of a beneficiary in subsequent proceedings concerning any accounting of the personal representative or the propriety of any action of the personal representative.

    Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

    In Florida there are several procedural requirements that the personal representative must follow while settling a decedent’s estate. In order to avoid problems and delays, it is critical that these rules are procedures are understood and followed. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience representing clients in matters related to probate, probate administration, and estate litigation. We have a thorough understanding of the Florida Probate Code, including the requirements of Florida Statutes, section 733.604- Inventories and accountings; public records exemptions. We are here to help. Contact us attorneys at 561-710-4000 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.

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