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Problems Gathering Estate Assets


One of the duties of the personal representative is to gather all the estate’s assets and to keep them safe. According to Florida Statute 733.607, the personal representative “shall take possession or control of” estate assets. Ultimately, these assets will be used to pay off estate debts. Whatever is left over will be distributed to heirs and beneficiaries.

Gathering assets sounds easy in the abstract. And it can often be easy, especially if the deceased only had financial accounts in a bank and some minor assets that are in his or her home at the time of death. However, many people have physical assets that can be difficult for a personal representative to take control of. Below, we walk you through some common scenarios.

A Nephew Won’t Give Up the Car

Many people help out friends and family. One common example is letting a person drive a vehicle that you still retain ownership of. When the owner dies, the vehicle is part of the probate estate; it does not belong to the vehicle borrower.

When the owner dies, the personal representative needs to get the vehicle back. Often, the person using it needs a vehicle to get to school or work and isn’t anxious to go without a car, so you can expect some problems. Reach out to a probate lawyer for help handling this situation.

Relatives Won’t Move Out of the Home

The deceased might have had relatives staying with them. Or they might have let relatives live on property they owned. These situations are also ripe for problems, especially if the representative needs to sell the property to pay debts or to more easily distribute the estate.

If this situation arises, contact a probate attorney immediately. You might need to take prompt legal action to get someone off the property.

The Personal Representative Can’t Find the Property

You might see financial records indicating that the deceased received payments from a trust, bank account, investment account, or business. However, you can’t locate any other paperwork that identifies the assets. Helpfully, a probate attorney can help track down assets so that you can take possession and ultimately distribute them.

The Deceased Owned a Business

Dealing with business assets can be complicated. In the ideal situation, the deceased was a passive owner, which means he or she didn’t do anything for the business. In this situation, the personal representative probably only needs to take possession of distributed profits and deal with some paperwork.

However, if the deceased actually ran the business, then the personal representative could be thrust into the role of becoming a manager. The representative might even have to run the business for a short period of time—or, at least until probate is finished. These duties might be well beyond your ability, so you need legal advice quickly.

Probate Attorneys in The Villages

Many people find acting as a personal representative challenging. It is easy to make a mistake, overlook property, or cause property to decline in value. In some situations, personal representatives find themselves sued for failing to adequately marshal the estate assets.

For help, reach out to Millhorn Elder Law Planning Group today. One of our probate attorneys in the Villages can help you if you call 800-743-9732. We offer a confidential, free initial consultation.

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