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A Beneficiary's Guide to Locating the Decedent's Assets in Florida

Updated: Jul 28, 2023

Losing a loved one is a challenging and emotional experience. As a beneficiary entitled to inherit assets from the decedent's estate, it is essential to understand the process of locating these assets in Florida. Successfully identifying and accessing the decedent's assets is crucial for ensuring a smooth probate administration and an efficient distribution of the estate. In this blog post, we will outline the steps and strategies to help beneficiaries navigate through the asset discovery process in Florida.

1. Gather Important Documents

Before commencing the search for the decedent's assets, it is crucial to gather essential documents. These documents will provide valuable information regarding the decedent's financial affairs and estate. Key documents to collect include:

  • Last Will and Testament: If the decedent left a valid will, it should specify the assets and beneficiaries.

  • Death Certificate: A certified copy of the death certificate is required for various legal and financial purposes.

  • Trust Documents (if applicable): If the decedent had a living trust, review the trust documents to ascertain the assets held within it.

  • Financial Statements: Locate bank statements, investment account statements, retirement account details, and any other financial records.

2. Identify the Personal Representative or Executor

The Personal Representative (also known as the Executor) is the individual appointed to manage the probate process and distribute the estate's assets according to the will or Florida intestate laws. As a beneficiary, it is essential to identify and communicate with the appointed Personal Representative. You may find this information in the Last Will and Testament or through the court where the probate proceedings are taking place.

3. Initiate Probate Proceedings

If the decedent's estate requires probate, the Personal Representative must initiate probate proceedings in the Florida probate court. Probate is the legal process through which the court validates the will (if any), pays outstanding debts, and distributes assets to beneficiaries. As a beneficiary, you will receive formal notice once the probate process has begun.

4. Conduct a Thorough Asset Search

The next step is to conduct a comprehensive search for the decedent's assets. Here are some avenues to explore during the asset search:

  • Bank Accounts: Contact the decedent's banks and financial institutions to inquire about existing accounts.

  • Real Estate: Search public property records or contact the county clerk's office to identify any real estate owned by the decedent.

  • Investments: Contact investment brokers or financial advisors to inquire about investment portfolios, stocks, bonds, and other securities.

  • Retirement Accounts: Reach out to the administrator of any retirement accounts to determine the value and beneficiary designations.

  • Insurance Policies: Check for any life insurance policies or other insurance policies that may name beneficiaries.

  • Business Interests: If the decedent owned a business, consult business records or corporate filings to identify any business assets.

5. Consult with Professionals

Navigating the probate process and locating assets can be complex. As a beneficiary, consider seeking professional assistance from Beckwith Legal and/or a financial advisor. We can guide you through the legal requirements and help you ensure that all assets are accounted for and distributed correctly.

As a beneficiary in Florida, locating the decedent's assets is an integral part of the probate process. By gathering essential documents, identifying the Personal Representative, initiating probate proceedings, conducting a thorough asset search, and seeking professional guidance, you can effectively navigate the complexities of estate administration. Remember that each probate case may differ, so it is essential to stay informed, patient, and diligent throughout the process.

If you have any questions you'd 'Better Call Beck!'


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