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Managing the Inventory

  • STATUTORY REQUIREMENTS AND HOW THEY AFFECT YOUR CASE
    1. Authority. The primary legal authority governing inventory procedures is found in the Florida Probate Code (Fla.Stat. §733.604), the Florida Probate Rules (Fla.Prob.R. 5.330, 5.340) and Art. X, §4, of the Florida Constitution.
    2. Time. Inventories need to be completed and filed within 60 days from the date of Letters of Administration. For a variety of reasons, this deadline can sometimes not be met.
      • Fla.Prob.R. 5.042(b) and 5.340(b) provide for the filing of a Petition to Extend Time for Filing Inventory. This can be accomplished ex parte after notice to the surviving spouse, heirs at law (in intestate estate) or residuary beneficiaries (in a testate estate), and any other person who has requested a copy of the inventory in writing. See Fla.Prob.R. 5.340(b), (d).
    3. Content. The inventory is verified and filed by the Personal Representative and it must list the property of the estate, including the decedent’s protected homestead. The property must be described in detail, including the fair market value as of the date of death. Fla.Stat. §733.604(1); Fla.Prob.R. 5.340(a).
    4. Valuation. If there is reasonable doubt as to the value of an estate asset, a qualified and disinterested appraiser may be employed to assist the personal representative in ascertaining the fair market value of any asset at the date of the decedent’s death, or any other date that may be appropriate. Fla.Stat. §733.612(19). Potential circumstances which may warrant the employ of an appraiser include:
      • Proof of an asset’s value is required for federal estate tax purposes.
      • Value of estate asset is uncertain
      • There is a dispute regarding value for elective share or any other purpose.
    5. Elective estate. The personal representative is responsible for the preparation of an inventory of the property entering into the elective estate if an order determining the surviving spouses has been entered.
  • NOTICE TO CREDITORS, BENEFICIARIES AND STATE AGENCIES—WHAT IS REQUIRED
    1. Service. The inventory must be signed personally by the personal representative and served on persons specified in Fla.Prob.R. 5.340(d) including the trustee of the decedent’s revocable trust. The Rule requires service on the Department of Revenue, the surviving spouse, each heir at law in an intestate estate, each residuary beneficiary in a testate estate, and any other interested person who may request it in writing. The Rule requires the personal representative to file proof of such service.
    2. Notice. The personal representative is required to notify each beneficiary that the beneficiary has a right to request the personal representative to furnish a written explanation of how the inventory value for an asset distributed or to be distributed to that beneficiary was determined, or if an appraisal was obtained, provide a copy of that appraisal. Residuary beneficiaries or heirs in an intestate estate are entitled to information regarding all inventories assets. Fla.Stat. §733.604(3); Fla.Prob.R. 5.340(e).
  • COLLECTING, MAINTAINING AND MANAGING ASSETS
    1. The Safe Deposit Box. Inventory of the decedent’s safe-deposit box is governed by Fla.Prob.R. 5.342 and Fla.Stat. §733.6065. This statute requires that the initial opening after death shall be conducted in the presence of any two of: an employee of the institution where the box is located, the personal representative, or the personal representative’s attorney of record. The personal representative must file any safe deposit box inventory within 10 days after the box is opened. The inventory must be accompanied by a box entry record that is dated no earlier than six months before the decedent’s date of death, and must be signed by each person who was present at the opening of the safe deposit box and verified its contents. Requirements for Personal Representative to Take Possession of, Protect, Preserve, and Insure Real and Personal Property. Fla.Stat. §733.607 and §733.608 empower the Personal Representative to take possession and control of the decedent’s property. Where real property is involved or tangible personal property, the personal representative has the right to leave those items in the possession of, or surrender them to, the person presumptively entitled to those assets, unless they are needed for the administration of the estate if the estate is not otherwise sufficiently liquid to pay debts, taxes and expenses of administration. The Probate Code provides that all real and personal property owned by the decedent at death within the state of Florida, except the protected homestead, as well as all income derived therefrom, shall be assets in the hands of the personal representative.
      • The Personal Representative may assume personal liability as an “owner or operator” of property contaminated with hazardous or toxic substances. Fla.Stat. 733.6121.
      • Fla.Stat. §733.607(2) gives the personal representative the authority to seek payment for estate expenses and obligations from the trustee of a trust, to the extent the assets of the settlor’s residuary estate are insufficient to pay pre residuary devises and statutory entitlements.
      • Upon taking control of the decedent’s estate, the personal representative has a duty to take all steps reasonably necessary for the management protection, and preservation of the estate until distribution. This includes circumstances which may warrant the personal representative instituting an action to recover possession of, to determine title to, for waste of, and for trespass on, the property. Fla.Stat. §733.607(1); Sawyer v. Hinton, 35 So.2d 293 (1948). Title passes at the moment of death to the heir or beneficiary and that person may thereby have liability exposure.
      • Personal Representative may decide that physical repairs are needed to preserve the property. Fla.Stat. §733.612(6).
      • Personal Representative should secure insurance of the property where necessary. Fla.Stat. §733.612(13). It is imperative to locate and secure all insurance policies by which the decedent is insured against loss and liability, review them, make sure the premiums are paid, increase coverage if necessary, and change the name of the insured by endorsement to the personal representative, estate, and devisee or obtain new coverage.
      • The Personal Representative is authorized to insure herself against liability to third persons. Fla.Stat. §733.612(13).
  • INVENTORY PROBLEMS
    1. Errors and Omissions. If property is omitted or erroneously misvalued or described, a verified supplementary inventory should be filed and served. Fla.Stat. §733.604(2); Fla.Prob.R. 5.340(c).
    2. Securities. Sometimes disputes arise in the valuation of securities. The common practice is to have securities valued using the guidelines promulgated by the IRS for valuation of assets in the gross estate. This generally is the mean between the high and low on the date of death with an adjustment if a dividend is in process.
    3. Failure to Search. The personal representative should make a diligent search for assets other than the obvious assets that might properly be includable in the decedent’s probate estate. The personal representative may be liable for failure to collect assets or debts due to the estate, even when this failure is due to the advice of counsel. Laramore v. Laramore, 64 So.2d 662 (Fla. 1953).
  • RELEVANT STATUTES, PROBATE RULES, AND CONSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS
    • Fla.Const. Art. X, § 4. Homestead; exemptions
    • There shall be exempt from forced sale under process of any court, and no judgment, decree or execution shall be a lien thereon, except for the payment of taxes and assessments thereon, obligations contracted for the purchase, improvement or repair thereof, or obligations contracted for house, field or other labor performed on the realty, the following property owned by a natural person:
      1. a homestead, if located outside a municipality, to the extent of one hundred sixty acres of contiguous land and improvements thereon, which shall not be reduced without the owner’s con-sent by reason of subsequent inclusion in a municipality; or if located within a municipality, to the extent of one-half acre of contiguous land, upon which the exemption shall be limited to the residence of the owner or the owner’s family;
      2. personal property to the value of one thousand dollars.
    • These exemptions shall inure to the surviving spouse or heirs of the owner.
    • The homestead shall not be subject to devise if the owner is survived by spouse or minor child, except the homestead may be devised to the owner’s spouse if there be no minor child. The owner of homestead real estate, joined by the spouse if married, may alienate the homestead by mortgage, sale or gift and, if married, may by deed transfer the title to an estate by the entirety with the spouse. If the owner or spouse is incompetent, the method of alienation or encumbrance shall be as provided by law.
    • Probate Rule 5.042. Time
    • Computation. In computing any period of time prescribed or allowed by these rules, by order of court, or by any applicable statute, the day of the act, event, or default from which the period begins to run shall not be included. The last day of the period shall be included unless it is a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, in which event the period shall run until the end of the next day which is neither a Saturday, Sunday, nor legal holiday. When the period is less than 7 days, intermediate Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays shall be excluded. Any day the clerk’s office is closed shall be deemed a legal holiday for purposes of this rule.
    • Enlargement. When an act is required or allowed to be done at or within a specified time by these rules, by order of court, or by notice given thereunder, for cause shown the court at any time in its discretion
      1. with or without notice may order the period enlarged if request therefor is made before the expiration of the period originally prescribed or as extended by a previous order, or
      2. on motion made and notice after the expiration of the specified period may permit the act to be done when failure to act was the result of excusable neglect. The court under this rule may not extend the time for serving a motion for rehearing or to enlarge any period of time governed by the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure.
    • Service for Hearings. A copy of any written petition or motion which may not be heard ex parte and a copy of the notice of the hearing thereon shall be served a reasonable time before the time specified for the hearing.
    • Additional Time After Service by Mail. Except when serving formal notice, or when serving a motion, pleading, or other paper in the manner provided for service of formal notice, when an interested person has the right or is required to act within a prescribed period after the service of notice or other paper on the interested person and the notice or paper is served by mail, 5 days shall be added to the prescribed period.
    • Probate Rule 5.330. Execution by Personal Representative

    Notwithstanding any other provisions of these rules, the personal representative shall sign the:

    • inventory;
    • accountings;
    • petition for sale or confirmation of sale or encumbrance of real or personal property;
    • petition to continue business of decedent;
    • petition to compromise or settle claim;
    • petition to purchase on credit;
    • petition for distribution and discharge; and
    • resignation of personal representative
    • Probate Rule 5.340. Inventory
    • Contents and Filing. Unless an inventory has been previously filed, the personal representative shall file an inventory of the estate within 60 days after issuance of letters. The inventory shall contain notice of the beneficiaries’ rights under subdivision (e), list the estate with reasonable detail and include for each listed item (excluding real property appearing to be protected homestead property) its estimated fair market value at the date of the decedent’s death. Real property appearing to be protected homestead property shall be listed and so designated.
    • Extension. On petition the time for filing the inventory may be extended by the court for cause shown without notice, except that the personal representative shall serve copies of the petition and order on the persons described in subdivision (d).
    • Amendments. A supplementary or amended inventory containing the information required by subdivision (a) as to each affected item shall be filed and served by the personal representative if:
      1. the personal representative learns of property not included in the original inventory; or
      2. the personal representative learns that the estimated value or description indicated in the original inventory for any item is erroneous or misleading; or
      3. the personal representative determines the estimated fair market value of an item whose value was described as unknown in the original inventory.
    • Service. The personal representative shall serve a copy of the inventory and all supplemental and amended inventories on the Department of Revenue, the surviving spouse, each heir at law in an intestate estate, each residuary beneficiary in a testate estate, and any other interested person who may request it in writing. The personal representative shall file proof of such service.
    • Information. On reasonable request in writing the personal representative shall provide a beneficiary with in-formation to which the beneficiary is entitled by law.
    • Elective Share Proceedings. Upon entry of an order determining the surviving spouse’s entitlement to the elective share, the personal representative shall file an inventory of the property entering into the elective estate which shall identify the direct recipient, if any, of that property. The personal representative shall serve the inventory of the elective estate as provided in rule 5.360. Service of an inventory of the elective estate on the Department of Revenue is not required. On reasonable request in writing the personal representative shall provide an interested person with a written explanation of how the inventory value for an asset was determined and shall permit an interested person to examine appraisals on which the inventory values are based.
    • Verification. All inventories shall be verified by the personal representative.
    • Probate Rule 5.342. Inventory of Safe-deposit Box
    • Filing. The personal representative shall file an inventory of the contents of the decedent’s safe-deposit box within 10 days of the initial opening of the box by the personal representative or the personal representative’s attorney of record. The inventory shall include a copy of the financial institution’s entry record for the box from a date that is six months prior to the decedent’s date of death to the date of the initial opening by the personal representative or the personal representative’s attorney of record.
    • Verification. Each person who was present at the initial opening must verify the contents of the box by signing a copy of the inventory under penalties of perjury.
    • Service. The personal representative shall serve a copy of the inventory on the surviving spouse, each heir at law in an intestate estate, each residuary beneficiary in a testate estate, and any other interested person who may request it in writing. The personal representative shall file proof of such service.
    • §733.604. Inventories and accountings; public records exemptions
    1. (a) Unless an inventory has been previously filed, a personal representative shall file a verified inventory of property of the estate, listing it with reasonable detail and including for each listed item its estimated fair market value at the date of the decedent’s death.(b)Any inventory of an estate, whether initial, amended, or supplementary, filed with the clerk of the court in conjunction with the administration of an estate is confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution.
    2. Any inventory of an elective estate, whether initial, amended, or supplementary, filed with the clerk of the court in conjunction with an election made in accordance with part II of chapter 732 is confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution.
    3. Any accounting, whether interim, final, amended, or supplementary, filed in an estate proceeding is confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1) and s. 24(a), Art. I of the State Constitution.
    4. Any inventory or accounting made confidential and exempt by subparagraph 1., subparagraph 2., or subparagraph 3. shall be disclosed by the custodian for inspection or copying:
      • To the personal representative;
      • To the personal representative’s attorney;
      • To an interested person as defined in s. 731.201; or
      • By court order upon a showing of good cause.
    5. These exemptions apply to any inventory or accounting filed before, on, or after July 1, 2009.
    6. This paragraph is subject to the Open Government Sunset Review Act in accordance with s. 119.15 and shall stand repealed on October 2, 2014, unless reviewed and saved from repeal through reenactment by the Legislature.
      1. If the personal representative learns of any property not included in the original inventory, or learns that the estimated value or description indicated in the original inventory for any item is erroneous or misleading, the personal representative shall file a verified amended or supplementary inventory showing any new items and their estimated value at the date of the decedent’s death, or the revised estimated value or description.
      2. Upon written request to the personal representative, a beneficiary shall be furnished a written explanation of how the inventory value for an asset was determined, or, if an appraisal was obtained, a copy of the appraisal, as follows:
        • To a residuary beneficiary or heir in an intestate estate, regarding all inventoried assets.
        • To any other beneficiary, regarding all assets distributed or proposed to be distributed to that beneficiary.

The personal representative must notify each beneficiary of that beneficiary’s rights under this subsection. Neither a request nor the failure to request information under this subsection affects any rights of a beneficiary in subsequent proceedings concerning any accounting of the personal representative or the propriety of any action of the personal representative.

    • 733.6065. Opening safe-deposit box
      1. Subject to the provisions of s. 655.936(2), the initial opening of a safe-deposit box that is leased or coleased by the decedent shall be conducted in the presence of any two of the following persons: an employee of the institution where the box is located, the personal representative, or the personal representative’s attorney of record. Each person who is present must verify the contents of the box by signing a copy of the inventory under penalties of perjury. The personal representative shall file the safe-deposit box inventory, together with a copy of the box entry record from a date which is 6 months prior to the date of death to the date of inventory, with the court within 10 days after the box is opened. Unless otherwise ordered by the court, this inventory and the attached box entry record is subject to inspection only by persons entitled to inspect an inventory under s. 733.604(1). The personal representative may remove the contents of the box.
      2. The right to open and examine the contents of a safe-deposit box leased by a decedent, or any documents delivered by a decedent for safekeeping, and to receive items as provided for in s. 655.935 is separate from the rights provided for in subsection (1).
    • 733.607. Possession of estate
      1. Except as otherwise provided by a decedent’s will, every personal representative has a right to, and shall take possession or control of, the decedent’s property, except the protected homestead, but any real property or tangible personal property may be left with, or surrendered to, the person presumptively entitled to it unless possession of the property by the personal representative will be necessary for purposes of administration. The request by a personal representative for delivery of any property possessed by a beneficiary is conclusive evidence that the possession of the property by the personal representative is necessary for the purposes of administration, in any action against the beneficiary for possession of it. The personal representative shall take all steps reasonably necessary for the management, protection, and preservation of the estate until distribution and may maintain an action to recover possession of property or to determine the title to it.
      2. If, after providing for statutory entitlements and all devises other than residuary devises, the assets of the decedent’s estate are insufficient to pay the expenses of the administration and obligations of the decedent’s estate, the personal representative is entitled to payment from the trustee of a trust described in s. 733.707(3), in the amount the personal representative certifies in writing to be required to satisfy the insufficiency, subject to the exclusions and preferences under s. 736.05053. The provisions of s. 733.805 shall apply in determining the amount of any payment required by this section.
    • 733.608. General power of the personal representative
      1. All real and personal property of the decedent, except the protected homestead, within this state and the rents, income, issues, and profits from it shall be assets in the hands of the personal representative:
        • For the payment of devises, family allowance, elective share, estate and inheritance taxes, claims, charges, and expenses of the administration and obligations of the decedent’s estate.
        • To enforce contribution and equalize advancement.
        • For distribution.
      2. If property that reasonably appears to the personal representative to be protected homestead is not occupied by a person who appears to have an interest in the property, the personal representative is authorized, but not required, to take possession of that property for the limited purpose of preserving, insuring, and protecting it for the person having an interest in the property, pending a determination of its homestead status. If the personal representative takes possession of that property, any rents and revenues may be collected by the personal representative for the account of the heir or devisee, but the personal representative shall have no duty to rent or otherwise make the property productive.
      3. If the personal representative expends funds or incurs obligations to preserve, maintain, insure, or protect the property referenced in subsection (2), the personal representative shall be entitled to a lien on that property and its revenues to secure repayment of those expenditures and obligations incurred. These expenditures and obligations incurred, including, but not limited to, fees and costs, shall constitute a debt owed to the personal representative that is charged against and which may be secured by a lien on the protected homestead, as provided in this section. The debt shall include any amounts paid for these purposes after the decedent’s death and prior to the personal representative’s appointment to the extent later ratified by the personal representative in the court proceeding provided for in this section.
        • On the petition of the personal representative or any interested person, the court having jurisdiction of the ad-ministration of the decedent’s estate shall adjudicate the amount of the debt after formal notice to the persons appearing to have an interest in the property.
        • The persons having an interest in the protected homestead shall have no personal liability for the repayment of the above noted debt. The personal representative may enforce payment of the debt through any of the following methods:
          1. By foreclosure of the lien as provided in this section;
          2. By offset of the debt against any other property in the personal representative’s possession that otherwise would be distributable to any person having an interest in the protected homestead, but only to the extent of the fraction of the total debt owed to the personal representative the numerator of which is the value of that person’s interest in the protected homestead and the denominator of which is the total value of the protected homestead; or
          3. By offset of the debt against the revenues from the protected homestead received by the personal representative.
      4. The personal representative’s lien shall attach to the property and take priority as of the date and time a notice of that lien is recorded in the official records of the county where that property is located, and the lien may secure expenditures and obligations incurred, including, but not limited to, fees and costs made before or after recording the notice. The notice of lien may be recorded before adjudicating the amount of the debt. The notice of lien shall also be filed in the probate proceeding, but failure to do so does not affect the validity of the lien. A copy of the notice of lien shall be served in the manner provided for service of formal notice upon each person appearing to have an interest in the property. The notice of lien must state:
        • The name and address of the personal representative and the personal representative’s attorney;
        • The legal description of the property;
        • The name of the decedent and also, to the extent known to the personal representative, the name and address of each person appearing to have an interest in the property; and
        • That the personal representative has expended or is obligated to expend funds to preserve, maintain, insure, and protect the property and that the lien stands as security for recovery of those expenditures and obligations incurred, including, but not limited to, fees and costs.Substantial compliance with the foregoing provisions renders the notice in comportment with this section.
      5. The lien shall terminate upon the earliest of:
        • Recording a satisfaction or release signed by the personal representative in the official records of the county where the property is located;
        • The discharge of the personal representative when the estate administration is complete;
        • One year from the recording of the lien in the official records unless a proceeding to determine the debt or enforce the lien has been filed; or
        • The entry of an order releasing the lien.
      6. Within 14 days after receipt of the written request of any interested person, the personal representative shall deliver to the requesting person at a place designated in the written request an estoppel letter setting forth the unpaid balance of the debt secured by the lien referred to in this section. After complete satisfaction of the debt secured by the lien, the personal representative shall record within 30 days after complete payment, a satisfaction of the lien in the official records of the county where the property is located. If a judicial proceeding is necessary to compel compliance with the provisions of this subsection, the prevailing party shall be entitled to an award of attorney’s fees and costs.
      7. The lien created by this section may be foreclosed in the manner of foreclosing a mortgage under the provisions of chapter 702.
      8. In any action for enforcement of the debt described in this section, the court shall award taxable costs as in chancery actions, including reasonable attorney’s fees.
      9. A personal representative entitled to recover a debt for expenditures and obligations incurred, including, but not limited to; fees and costs, under this section may be relieved of the duty to enforce collection by an order of the court finding:
        • That the estimated court costs and attorney’s fees in collecting the debt will approximate or exceed the amount of the recovery; or
        • That it is impracticable to enforce collection in view of the improbability of collection.
      10. A personal representative shall not be liable for failure to attempt to enforce collection of the debt if the personal representative reasonably believes it would have been economically impracticable.
      11. The personal representative shall not be liable for failure to take possession of the protected homestead or to expend funds on its behalf. In the event that the property is determined by the court not to be protected homestead, subsections (2)-(10) shall not apply and any liens previously filed shall be deemed released upon recording of the order in the official records of the county where the property is located.
      12. Upon the petition of an interested party to accommodate a sale or the encumbrance of the protected homestead, the court may transfer the lien provided for in this section from the property to the proceeds of the sale or encumbrance by requiring the deposit of the proceeds into a restricted account subject to the lien. The court shall have continuing jurisdiction over the funds deposited. The transferred lien shall attach only to the amount asserted by the personal representative, and any proceeds in excess of that amount shall not be subject to the lien or otherwise restricted under this section. Alternatively, the personal representative and the apparent owners of the protected homestead may agree to retain in escrow the amount demanded as reimbursement by the personal representative, to be held there under the continuing jurisdiction of the court pending a final determination of the amount properly reimbursable to the personal representative under this section.
      13. This act shall apply to estates of decedents dying after the date on which this act becomes a law.
      • 733.612. Transactions authorized for the personal representative; exceptions

      Except as otherwise provided by the will or court order, and subject to the priorities stated in s. 733.805, without court order, a personal representative, acting reasonably for the benefit of the interested persons, may properly:

      1. Retain assets owned by the decedent, pending distribution or liquidation, including those in which the personal representative is personally interested or that are otherwise improper for fiduciary investments.
      2. Perform or compromise, or, when proper, refuse to perform, the decedent’s contracts. In performing the decedent’s enforceable contracts to convey or lease real property, among other possible courses of action, the personal representative may:
        • Convey the real property for cash payment of all sums remaining due or for the purchaser’s note for the sum remaining due, secured by a mortgage on the property.
        • Deliver a deed in escrow, with directions that the proceeds, when paid in accordance with the escrow agreement, be paid as provided in the escrow agreement.
      3. Receive assets from fiduciaries or other sources.
      4. Invest funds as provided in ss. 518.10-518.14, considering the amount to be invested, liquidity needs of the estate, and the time until distribution will be made.
      5. Acquire or dispose of an asset, excluding real property in this or another state, for cash or on credit and at public or private sale, and manage, develop, improve, exchange, partition, or change the character of an estate asset.
      6. Make ordinary or extraordinary repairs or alterations in buildings or other structures; demolish improvements; or erect new party walls or buildings.
      7. Enter into a lease, as lessor or lessee, for a term within, or extending beyond, the period of administration, with or without an option to renew.
      8. Enter into a lease or arrangement for exploration and removal of minerals or other natural resources or enter into a pooling or unitization agreement.
      9. Abandon property when it is valueless or so encumbered, or in a condition, that it is of no benefit to the estate.
      10. Vote, or refrain from voting, stocks or other securities in person or by general or limited proxy.
      11. Pay calls, assessments, and other sums chargeable or accruing against, or on account of, securities, unless barred by the provisions relating to claims.
      12. Hold property in the name of a nominee or in other form without disclosure of the interest of the estate, but the personal representative is liable for any act of the nominee in connection with the property so held.
      13. Insure the assets of the estate against damage or loss and insure against personal and fiduciary liability to third persons.
      14. Borrow money, with or without security, to be repaid from the estate assets or otherwise, other than real property, and advance money for the protection of the estate.
      15. Extend, renew, or in any manner modify any obligation owing to the estate. If the personal representative holds a mortgage, security interest, or other lien upon property of another person, he or she may accept a conveyance or transfer of encumbered assets from the owner in satisfaction of the indebtedness secured by its lien instead of fore-closure.
      16. Pay taxes, assessments, and other expenses incident to the administration of the estate.
      17. Sell or exercise stock subscription or conversion rights or consent, directly or through a committee or other agent, to the reorganization, consolidation, merger, dissolution, or liquidation of a corporation or other business enterprise.
      18. Allocate items of income or expense to either estate income or principal, as permitted or provided by law.
      19. Employ persons, including, but not limited to, attorneys, accountants, auditors, appraisers, investment advisers, and others, even if they are one and the same as the personal representative or are associated with the personal representative, to advise or assist the personal representative in the performance of administrative duties; act upon the recommendations of those employed persons without independent investigation; and, instead of acting personally, employ one or more agents to perform any act of administration, whether or not discretionary. Any fees and compensation paid to a person who is the same as, associated with, or employed by, the personal representative shall be taken into consideration in determining the personal representative’s compensation.
      20. Prosecute or defend claims or proceedings in any jurisdiction for the protection of the estate and of the personal representative.
      21. Sell, mortgage, or lease any personal property of the estate or any interest in it for cash, credit, or for part cash or part credit, and with or without security for the unpaid balance.
      22. Continue any unincorporated business or venture in which the decedent was engaged at the time of death:
        • In the same business form for a period of not more than 4 months from the date of appointment, if continuation is a reasonable means of preserving the value of the business, including good will.
        • In the same business form for any additional period of time that may be approved by court order.
      23. Provide for exoneration of the personal representative from personal liability in any contract entered into on behalf of the estate.
      24. Satisfy and settle claims and distribute the estate as provided in this code.
      25. Enter into agreements with the proper officer or department head, commissioner, or agent of any department of the government of the United States, waiving the statute of limitations concerning the assessment and collection of any federal tax or any deficiency in a federal tax.
      26. Make partial distribution to the beneficiaries of any part of the estate not necessary to satisfy claims, expenses of administration, taxes, family allowance, exempt property, and an elective share, in accordance with the decedent’s will or as authorized by operation of law.
      27. Execute any instruments necessary in the exercise of the personal representative’s powers.
      • 733.6121. Personal representative; powers as to environmental issues relating to property subject to administration; liability
      1. Except as otherwise provided by the will or by court order, and subject to s. 733.805, the personal representative has, without court authorization, the powers specified in subsection (2).
      2. A personal representative has the power, acting reasonably and for the benefit of the interested persons:
        • To inspect or investigate, or cause to be inspected or investigated, property subject to administration, including interests in sole proprietorships, partnerships, or corporations and any assets owned by such a business entity for the purpose of determining compliance with an environmental law affecting that property or to respond to an actual or threatened violation of an environmental law affecting that property;
        • To take, on behalf of the estate, any action necessary to prevent, abate, or otherwise remedy an actual or potential violation of an environmental law affecting property subject to administration, either before or after initiation of an enforcement action by a governmental body;
        • To settle or compromise at any time any claim against the estate or the personal representative that may be asserted by a governmental body or private party which involves the alleged violation of an environmental law affecting property subject to administration over which the personal representative has responsibility;
        • To disclaim any power granted by any document, statute, or rule of law which, in the sole judgment of the personal representative, could cause the personal representative to incur personal liability, or the estate to incur liability, under any environmental law;
        • To decline to serve as a personal representative, or having undertaken to serve, to resign at any time, if the personal representative believes that there is or could be a conflict of interest because of potential claims or liabilities that could be asserted on behalf of the estate by reason of the type or condition of the assets held; or
        • To charge against the assets of the estate the cost of any inspection, investigation, review, abatement, response, cleanup, or remedial action considered reasonable by the personal representative; and, in the event of the closing or termination of the estate or the transfer of the estate property to another personal representative, to hold moneys sufficient to cover the cost of cleaning up any known environmental problem.
      3. A personal representative is not personally liable to any beneficiary or any other party for a decrease in value of assets in an estate by reason of the personal representative’s compliance or efforts to comply with an environmental law, specifically including any reporting requirement under that law.
      4. A personal representative who acquires ownership or control of a vessel or other property without having owned, operated, or materially participated in the management of that vessel or property before assuming ownership or control as personal representative is not considered an owner or operator for purposes of liability under chapter 376, chapter 403, or any other environmental law. A personal representative who willfully, knowingly, or recklessly causes or exacerbates a release or threatened release of a hazardous substance is personally liable for the cost of the response, to the extent that the release or threatened release is attributable to the personal representative’s activities. This subsection does not preclude the filing of claims against the assets that constitute the estate held by the personal representative or the filing of actions against the personal representative as representative of the estate. In such an action, an award or judgment against the personal representative must be satisfied only from the assets of the estate.
      5. Neither the acceptance by the personal representative of the property or a failure by the personal representative to inspect or investigate the property creates any inference of liability under an environmental law with respect to that property.
      6. For the purposes of this section, the term “environmental law” means a federal, state, or local law, rule, regulation, or ordinance that relates to protection of the environment or human health, and the term “hazardous substance” means a substance, material, or waste defined as hazardous or toxic, or any contaminant, pollutant, or constituent thereof, or otherwise regulated by an environmental law.
      7. This section applies to any estate admitted to probate on or after July 1, 1995.

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