DeSantis Signs Bill that Impacts Some Inherited Property

If a Floridian dies without a will, one heir can sell their portion of property independently. After July 1, however, a bill passed by the Florida Legislature and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (SB 580) essentially gives the other heirs a “right of first refusal” before an outside party is allowed to buy their inherited percentage.

If a Floridian dies without a will, one heir can sell their portion of property independently. After July 1, however, a bill passed by the Florida Legislature and signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (CS/CS/SB 580) essentially gives the other heirs a “right of first refusal” before an outside party is allowed to buy that inherited percentage.

The bill adopts the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act by the Uniform Law Commission. The bill provides special procedures for the partition of “heirs property,” which generally includes inherited real property owned by relatives as tenants in common. A partition involves a legal action by a cotenant (one of two or more tenants holding title to the same property) to force the sale or division of real property.

The bill allows heirs property cotenants to purchase the property interests of other cotenants seeking partition before the property is divided or sold.

The bill requires a court to determine the fair market value of the property – either a court-ordered appraisal or agreement of the parties – before the court proceeds to partition. SB 580 generally requires an open-market sale by a court-appointed real estate broker, while current statutes usually require an auction.

Under current rules, if someone dies in Florida without a will and no surviving spouse, real property gets distributed in a specific order. Descendants come first, typically children or grandchildren. If there are no descendants, it goes to parents. If there are no surviving parents, it goes to siblings.

When multiple people receive property, they own the property as tenants in common, and each new owner can “freely transfer or encumber his or her undivided … interest without transferring or encumbering the undivided one-half interest owned by the other.” That portion could also be lost to a creditor.

SB 580 creates new procedures for the partition of “heirs property” – real property held by tenants in common without an existing partitioning agreement.

While it includes a list of legal steps that could include appraisals and more, it requires that the “sale must be an open-market sale unless the court finds that sealed bids or an auction would be in the best interests of the tenants. The court must also appoint a licensed real estate broker within 10 days to sell the property in a commercially reasonable manner. For an open-market sale, the broker must report an offer at the court-determined property value within seven days after receiving the offer,” according to a Florida Senate analysis of the bill.

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