The Team Approach to Probate
When Kevin passed away, he left an estate worth $3 million, property he owned separately, property owned jointly with his second wife, and both minor and adult children. He had not consulted with an estate planning attorney for many years, so his estate plan was not as current or up-to-date as it should have been. As his family and business associates squabbled over his estate, it became clear they needed to take a team approach to probate.
The Personal Representative
The person who assumes this role is responsible for managing and finalizing the deceased person’s estate. In fact, a personal representative shoulders responsibilities including:
- Gathering estate assets,
- Safeguarding and maintaining estate assets,
- Gathering and assessing claims against the estate,
- Paying valid claims,
- Filing an inventory of assets with the court,
- Paying estate taxes, if necessary.
Some probate assets require special attention.
Experts and Advisors
As the personal representative begins to assess the decedent’s property, something might become apparent: expert advice is needed.
- Protection. Some assets may need to be protected. For example, real property or boats might need a security system. Additionally, personal representatives may contact insurance brokers to purchase coverage for estate assets.
- Management. The personal representative may hire or retain management for a business owned by the decedent. In fact, probate can take months and sometimes longer. However, shutting down the decedent’s business interest is not usually an option as it reduces the value of estate assets. Real estate, especially commercial properties, may need to be managed during probate.
- Valuation. A personal representative must determine the value of the assets in the probate estate. The inventory that the personal representative must file with the court is required to contain a line item valuation of all assets as of the date the decedent passed. To obtain valuations, the personal representative may hire appraisers. For example, if the decedent owned an extensive wine collection, the personal representative will have to determine how much it is worth before finalizing the estate, selling the assets, or distributing assets to the heirs or beneficiaries.
- Finances. In some estates, and depending on the assets owned by the decedent, a personal representative may need to hire certified public accountants and financial managers.
The Team Approach to Probate Includes a Lawyer
Generally, the personal representative will retain an attorney to help navigate the probate process. It is a requirement in the State of Florida that an attorney represent every personal representative, unless the personal representative happens to be an attorney himself/herself.
At Law Offices of John Mangan, P.A., we’ve helped many clients with estate planning and probate needs. We can set up an appointment for you if you just call 772-324-9050 or use our convenient Contact Form.
Located in Palm City, the Law Offices of John Mangan, P.A. also serves clients in Stuart, Hobe Sound, Jupiter, and Port St. Lucie.