Lawyer Looking at Estate Assets for AppraisalProbate can be incredibly stressful for estate executors, known in Florida as "personal representatives", whose responsibilities range from filing time-sensitive paperwork to inventorying the entirety of a decedent’s remaining possessions. However, settling disputes among heirs and ensuring that creditors receive outstanding debts could seem an especially arduous undertaking. If the deceased person left behind assets of uncertain value, executors may have to seek an appraisal to ensure that the estate is divided fairly and in accordance with Florida state law.

The Different Types of Property in Florida Probate

Personal representatives are typically responsible for the administration of the following types of property:

  • Real property
  • Tangible personal property (such as household items)
  • Intangible personal property (such as bank accounts)
  • Intellectual property

Certain types of property, such as real property and tangible personal property, may require appraisals. However, real properties are relatively simple to appraise, insofar as they are customarily appraised at their fair-market value at the time of the decedent’s death.

Tangible personal property, in contrast, may pose additional challenges for personal representatives, as its fair-market value or intrinsic properties may be difficult to gauge, especially when considering beneficiaries oft-divergent interests.

Tangible Personal Property in Probate

The Florida Probate Code offers no single definition of what could be considered tangible personal property. In estate law, tangible personal property, or TPP, refers to physical assets that exist in the real world and can be relocated.

The following types of assets could be considered tangible personal property:

  • Motor vehicles, including cars, motorcycles, and motor homes
  • Furniture
  • Electronics
  • Household appliances
  • Jewelry and artwork
  • Personal collections, such as coin collections, postage stamp collections, and model train collections

Under certain, limited circumstances, even a family pet could be considered tangible personal property during probate and estate administration.

How to Appraise Tangible Personal Property

Tangible personal property can usually be appraised using any one of the following three methods for assessing fair market value:

  1. The Market Approach. The market approach determines the value of assets based on comparable sale prices for the same type or class of assets. In general, the market approach uses readily-available data to assess how much an item of comparable age and condition would be worth on the open market.
  2. The Income Approach. If an asset generates a profit, then its fair market value could be assessed by calculating how much income the asset produces and could be reasonably expected to produce in the future.
  3. The Cost Approach. Some rare or irreplaceable items can be appraised using the cost method, which determines an asset’s fair market value based on how much it would cost to reproduce, replicate, or replace an item. The cost approach may be used to appraise assets that are no longer produced, manufactured, or in common use.

Most tangible personal property, such as motor vehicles, electronics, and furniture, can be appraised using the market approach. Oftentimes, executors only need to run a comprehensive set of internet searches to estimate an asset’s value.

However, comparably complex assets—such as a revenue-earning real property—may require a professional evaluation.

When You Might Require an Appraisal

Certain types of rare, collectible, or complex assets may not have any clear-cut or easily calculable market value.

In general, you may need an appraisal for the following categories of assets:

  • Real properties
  • Collectibles
  • Jewelry
  • Artwork

Any jewelry or artwork that has an appraised or probable value of $50,000 or more should be assessed by a qualified professional, as it may be subject to additional review by the Internal Revenue Service’s Art Advisory Panel.

Contact a Probate Attorney Today

Ensuring that estate assets are properly appraised and assigned a fair market value is critical to avoiding conflict between heirs, creditors, and other interested parties. DeLoach, Hofstra & Cavonis, P.A., has been helping Floridians navigate the complexities of probate since 1976. If you need assistance executing or administering a Sunshine State estate, please send us a message online or call us at 727-397-5571 to speak to a legal professional and schedule your initial consultation as soon as possible.