Taking Care of a Florida Home During Probate

Many estates involve the decedent’s home, which passes to their children or other relatives who live in different states.  It often poses a challenge to the beneficiaries to now have an additional house to take care of, and we want to share some useful tips for the new owners. 

First, be sure the power is kept on.  Especially in Florida, houses heat up quickly from April through October, and mold/mildew can develop very fast in a house with no A/C.  If it is winter (which is very short in Florida), consider having someone “drip the pipes” when the temperatures drop below freezing.  If there is an alarm system, the phone may need to stay connected for it to work. 

Also, check on the homeowners insurance to be sure the house is covered.  Especially during hurricane season, the house needs full coverage, including wind which could be a separate policy.  Many insurers will drop coverage once the house is vacant, so consider a tenant, friend or family member who could stay in the house and keep an eye on things.

To avoid any code enforcement liens from the city or county, keep the lawn maintained and the yard reasonably clear of debris.  If the City or County has to cut your grass or clean up the yard, they will charge a lot more than you want to pay for it and place a lien on the property to get repaid.

If the house was the decedent’s “homestead” (i.e. permanent residence), then the expenses are not an “estate responsibility”, but are the obligation of the new owners.  If the property was not the permanent residence (i.e. a vacation home or business property), then the cost of upkeep can be paid from, or reimbursed by the Estate.