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How Do You Appraise the Value of a Florida Probate Estate?


The personal representative (executor) of a Florida probate estate must fulfill many duties under the law. One of them is to properly inventory the estate. Essentially, this means gathering all of the property that belonged to the decedent–and is not exempt or excluded from probate–and file a list with the court listing each asset and their value.

But how do you properly value a Florida probate estate’s assets? Do you need to hire a professional appraiser? For many types of property, the answer is no. There are ways that the personal representative–acting with the advice of a qualified attorney–can determine the value of the asset for inventory purposes. There are, however, several exceptions where an outside appraisal is either desirable or necessary.

When Do You Need to Call in an Expert?

The most important thing to remember when valuing a probate estate is that each asset must be assessed at its “fair market value” on the date of the owner’s death. A simple way to illustrate this is by looking at common stocks. Let’s say that Gina passed away in March 2023. Back in March 2016, Gina purchased 100 shares of Acme, Inc., for $10 a share, or $1,000 total. On the day Gina died, Acme’s stock traded at an average of $15. The fair market value on the date of death would therefore be $1,500.

This kind of valuation typically does not require expert assistance, as it is simply a matter of looking up some stock information online and performing basic math. Even something like a house can often be valued simply by referencing publicly available information from the date of death. But there are other types of property that can be more complex to value and may need an expert appraisal.

One example is intellectual property. This is often overlooked by inexperienced executors, but a deceased person may hold potentially valuable copyrights, patents, and even trademarks. These are often impossible to appraise with outside assistance. For instance, let’s say our hypothetical decedent Gina wrote a couple of songs during her lifetime that were covered by popular artists. The ongoing publishing rights to those songs may be worth thousands–even millions–of dollars. Yet a personal representative who lacks knowledge of how music rights work probably will not be in a position to make that valuation.

Another case is tangible property that has unusual value as a collectible item. If a deceased person collected artwork, coins, stamps, rare books, or even retro video games, some items in that collection may be much more highly valued than others. Again, the executor may not be able to separate the potential “gold” from the worthless items without help.

Contact Us Today

Appraisal and valuation of probate assets can also play a crucial role if there is litigation involving the estate. If you need to consult with a qualified Pompano Beach estate and trust litigation attorney, contact the offices of Mark R. Manceri, P.A., today to schedule a consultation.

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