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Handling Special Assets in a Florida Estate


A personal representative of a last will and testament has the weighty duty of endeavoring to do their best to ensure that the testator’s last wishes are honored and brought to fruition. This duty is amplified, of course, by the living beneficiaries who are depending on the personal representative to complete their task so they can begin receiving the benefit of the inheritance left to them.

However, the task demanded of personal representatives is often far from easy, or even straightforward. Sometimes, certain assets will need special care, maintenance, or funds from the estate itself in order to keep the asset viable. Handling these kinds of unique assets might require the personal representative to make some tough decisions. What balance will they decide to strike between protecting or preserving the estate as a whole, vs. utilizing estate assets or funds in order to meet special needs of certain assets?

This article will briefly discuss two categories of assets you could encounter in the course of fulfilling the duties of a personal representative of an estate. Namely we will be discussing Perishable Assets and Wasting Assets.

Perishable Assets

Some estates involve assets which will perish if they do not receive special attention or care. Personal representatives should be vigilant upon assuming their duties and endeavor to discover what, if any, perishable assets exist in the estate in order to take timely and appropriate action. Any perishable assets should be located, secured, and appropriate steps taken to ensure that the asset remains in viable condition.

You might be wondering what a “Perishable Asset” might mean. While these items could be a number of things, one easy to remember example is that of a fine wine collection. Fine wines can be very expensive, but their value is largely dependent on the bottles being stored safely and at the correct temperature. A fine wine collection might be an incredibly valuable asset – but only if the wine is properly cared for. Particularly in a state like Florida, issues with humidity and heat might easily damage or destroy such a collection.

But how much of the estate funding should go toward securing these bottles and caring for them? That is just one of many weights and balances that likely has no black and white answer. These are the kinds of decisions personal representatives have to make. The personal representative needs to decide whether to spend the money necessary to protect the perishable asset, or whether it is best to quickly sell the asset in order to avoid excess cost being directed away from the rest of the estate. Note that you might need a court order from the probate court approving the decision to sell the asset. An experienced probate litigation attorney can help you understand whether that may apply to you in your situation, as well as advise on the details of pursuing that path.

Wasting Assets

You know how a “new” car immediately drops a significant amount of value the moment the first owner drives the car off the lot? This depreciation follows many assets throughout their lifetimes. “Wasting Assets” are those kinds of assets which decrease in value over time, or lose value as they are used. This might include, as detailed above, vehicles such as cars, trucks, or boats. Often holding onto these items depreciates the value of the estate as time goes by, so it might be prudent to think about selling such items, but every scenario is different.

Contact Suncoast Civil Law 

The experienced Sarasota probate litigation lawyers at Suncoast Civil law and help you navigate through any probate related question you might be facing. Contact us today to begin speaking with out team.