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Estate Planning Appraisal for Real Estate

Settling an estate usually requires probate, the legal process which reassigns ownership from a deceased person to their living beneficiary. Whether an estate goes through probate depends on whether the person who has passed has done appropriate planning. A trust or a will must be drafted prior to death.

Wills, Trust and Probate

A trust allows you to minimize taxes and avoid probate and is a better choice that using a will to transfer assets.  Assets are transferred after death by a designated trustee.  To avoid the probate process, hire a lawyer to set up your trust, call us for a referral.  

A will is a legal document that deals with issues including children's guardianship and distribution of assets. Like rusts, wills have an executor and beneficiaries who transfer the estate. Trusts are superior to wills in that they allow you to avoid the court process known as probate.

Without a trust, real estate is appraised at the time of death in probate. The probate process usually requires real estate to be appraised and it's a good idea to plan ahead in order to avoid it.

What are Probate Assets? (from Florida Bar Association)


Probate administration applies only to probate assets. Probate assets are those assets owned in the decedent’s sole name at death or owned by the decedent and one or more co-owners and lacked a provision for automatic succession of ownership at death. Examples of assets or property that may be probate assets may include:

  • A bank account or investment account in the sole name of a decedent is a probate asset. A bank account or investment account owned by the decedent and payable on death or transferable on death to another, or held jointly with rights of survivorship with another, may not be a probate asset.

  • A life insurance policy, annuity contract or individual retirement account payable to the decedent’s estate is a probate asset. A life insurance policy, annuity contract, or individual retirement account payable to a beneficiary may not be a probate asset.


  • Real estate titled in the sole name of the decedent, or the decedent’s name and another person as tenants in common, is a probate asset (unless it is homestead property). Real estate titled in the name of the decedent and one or more other persons as joint tenants with rights of survivorship is not a probate asset.  Also, property owned by spouses as tenants by the entirety is not a probate asset on the death of the first spouse to die but goes automatically to the surviving spouse.

Qualities to Look for in choosing an appraiser

  • Established and Independent 

  • State Certified General Real Estate Appraiser is the highest license in Florida & has no limits of what RE can be appraised  

  • Experienced with appraisals that involve "date of death” 

  • Experienced with "Retroactive" appraisals that require research of market conditions that may date back several years

What's Needed for a Date-of-Death Appraisal


  • Inspections, interior and exterior

  • Condition of property at the date of death

  • Changes to the property since the date of death. 

  • Date of Death, must be in writing, email is ok

The Probate Process, a brief look

  1. Meet with an attorney

  2. File a Petition with the Probate Court

  3. Notify the Deceased creditors

  4. Inventory the Deceased Estate

  5. Close creditor period and pay valid debts

  6. File and pay estate taxes

  7. Final estate accounting

  8. Distribute remaining assets to beneficiaries

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