Common scenario: “No one wants Grandpa’s watch, car, or golf clubs. Can’t we just give them away or sell them?” NO. Under Florida law, there are specific regulations outlining what is, and what is not, an asset that is required to be probated. If an asset is a “probate asset,” the Personal Representative is required to identify that asset on a document provided to the Court called an “Inventory.” The Personal Representative then must account for all assets to the Court. Personal Representatives can be held personally liable for failing to account for probate assets. So the short answer is NO. Assets of the Decedent cannot be given away or sold just because its more convenient for the family or the Personal Representative. Once the inventory has been completed, and all assets are accounted for, then the Personal Representative can work with their attorney to make Final Distributions. If you are a Personal Representative please speak with your attorney before taking any action with the property of the decedent.
-Emily A. Helmick, Esq.