4 Important Items to Include in a Final Accounting for a Florida Probate
Being a personal representative of someone’s Florida estate is a huge responsibility. You cannot take your duties lightly or you could open yourself up to personal liability and financial risk. And, even if you do everything right during the course of the estate administration, you cannot close the estate until the final accounting is filed and approved by the court. The final accounting is something a lot of people tend to get wrong when they are trying to handle a probate without the benefit of a West Palm Beach probate attorney.
Here are four important elements that must be included in the final accounting for a Florida probate administration. Failure to include these will guarantee your final accounting will be rejected. By keeping detailed records from the start and documenting everything you do on behalf of the estate, it can help make the process of filing the final accounting much easier.
One of the first tasks for a personal representative is to take a complete inventory of all of the estate’s assets. With this task comes the requirement that you determine a fair market value for each of the assets at the time of the decedent’s death. While probate is open, there is a possibility that the value for each asset will change. You will need to track that as well. Some of these will be easy to track, like with stocks and bonds. For fixed assets, like cars, antiques, real estate, jewelry, etc., you will need to establish their fair market value again at the end of probate.
Another duty you have as personal representative is to collect any income that was due to the decedent either at the time of death or during the course of probate. One example is if the decedent had rental properties that continue to earn income during probate. You will need to keep collecting these funds and this information until probate is settled or the property is sold. For the final accounting, you need information that includes income owed but not yet collected, like outstanding loans. The income collected has to be separated on the final accounting by what was owed at the time of death versus what was received after probate was open.
You have to account for every penny spent by the estate during probate. You need to document the date, what it was for (property tax, house insurance, etc.), the recipient, and how much was sent. There is a requirement to keep documentation for the final accounting, so you shouldn’t use cash when possible.
Estate distributions can be one of the most complicated sections of the final accounting. If everything was sold and only cash remains, it can be easy. However, assets that haven’t matured or that no one wants could present challenges. You don’t want a beneficiary objecting to how his or her share was calculated on these types of assets.
Contact a Florida Probate Attorney Today
If you have been named as a personal representative, you don’t need to deal with this yourself. Let a skilled Florida probate attorney help. Contact the Law Offices of Larry E. Bray, P.A. today to schedule an initial consultation.