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Florida Probate Statute 733.813: Purchasers from Distributees Protected

One of the goals of the estate administration process in Florida is to distribute the decedent’s assets to his (or her) beneficiaries or heirs. However, the estate distribution process can sometimes become complicated. While in some cases the complication relates to insufficient assets or encumbrances impacting the distributee, in other cases the complication potentially impacts a third-party who purchases the property from a distributee. Florida law protects purchasers from claims on property acquired from distributees. To learn more about the process of probate and estate administration, including asset distribution and the requirements of Florida Statutes, section 733.813- Purchasers from distributees protected, contact a skilled Fort Lauderdale estate administration lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates. With over 2 decades of experience representing clients in a wide range of matters related to probate and estate administration, we have the knowledge and resources to ensure that your interests are protected.

Estate Administration Process

The purpose of the estate administration process is to settle the estate of a decedent, and transfer his (or her) property to others. The process is designed so that at the end the decedent’s estate is closed and contains no assets. Before the process can begin, a personal representative must be appointed. The personal representative is the person who is appointed by the Florida Probate Court. He has the responsibility of ensuring that orderly settlement of decedent’s estate. The entire process is overseen by a probate court judge.

Once the judge appoints the personal representative, he must inventory estate assets and determine its value. The personal representative must notify creditors and pay estate debt and expenses. This step impacts the asset distribution process. Debts must be paid before assets can be distributed, and debt can only be paid to the extent there are assets in the estate to pay them. If there are insufficient funds to pay both debt and distributions, the personal representative must use abatement to determine which distributions will be reduced in order to pay estate debt.

Once property is distributed, the estate no longer retains interest in such property. As a skilled Fort Lauderdale estate administration lawyer will explain, this means that anyone who has a claim against the estate cannot try to take that property from the distributee to satisfy debt owed by the estate.

Purchasers From Distributees Protected

Once the personal representative distributes assets to a distributee, the estate no longer retains title to it. This means that the distributee has the right to do whatever he or she wants to do with the property, including sell it. However, there are instances in it is learned after a distribution that it was improper or that there was some other issue with the distribution or the property. The law protects the purchaser. Under FL. Stat, section 733.813- Purchasers from distributees protected, the purchaser takes title to the property free and clear of any claims of the estate and would not be personally liable to the estate.

While the law protects the purchaser, it does not offer the same type of protection for the distributee who sold the property. If the distribution was improper the distributee may be required to pay back the estate the value of the improperly distributed property—even if the distributee has since sold the property.

Example

Joanne enjoyed driving expensive sports cars. In fact, she owed 5 of them. She passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. She left her cars and other property to her many nieces and nephews. During the estate administration process, Sam was give title to an expensive, recent model sports car that had a fair market value of $50,000. Sam, who had little interest in sports cars, was surprise that Joanne left it to him. Nonetheless, he decided that he really did not want it, but could use the cash. He promptly sold it to a dealer for $45,000. Soon after he sold the car and transferred title to the dealer, he was informed by Joanne’s personal representative that the distribution of the car to him was improper and that he was actually left other personal property with a lesser value. Sam was angry. However, as an experienced estate administration attorney in Fort Lauderdale explained to Sam, he would need to return to the estate the car or $50,000. He further explained that the estate could not get the car from the dealer due to the protection FL. Stat, section 733.813- Purchasers from distributees protected, provides to purchasers.

Related Statutory Provisions
  1. Delivery of devises and distributive shares: § 733.801, Fla. Stat.
  2. Distribution; right or title of distributee: § 733.811, Fla. Stat.
  3. Improper distribution or payment; liability of distributee or payee: § 733.812, Fla. Stat.
FL. Stat, Section 733.813- Purchasers From Distributees Protected

If property distributed in kind, or a security interest in that property, is acquired by a purchaser or lender for value from a distributee, the purchaser or lender takes title free of any claims of the estate and incurs no personal liability to the estate, whether or not the distribution was proper. The purchaser or lender need not inquire whether a personal representative acted properly in making the distribution in kind.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

The estate administration process can impact a range of people including beneficiaries, heirs, and creditors. While there are situations in which it could also potentially negatively impact a third party purchaser of estate assets, the law is designed to protect such a purchaser from those who have claims against the estate. If you have concerns about asset distribution, including questions about the requirements of Florida Probate Code, section 733.813- Purchasers from distributees protected, it is important that you discuss your concerns with an experienced estate administration attorney serving Fort Lauderdale. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates have years of experience working closely with personal representatives and other interested parties in all aspects of estate administration including asset distribution. We can help. Contact us attorneys at 561-710-4000 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case.

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