If you are serving as the executor of someone’s will, one of the most important tasks you will need to do is to complete an inventory of the decedent’s estate. This could feel like an overwhelming process, especially if the deceased person had a lot of assets. However, knowing more about the process you are about to embark on can help you feel a lot more prepared. Here is everything you need to know about an estate inventory.
What Is an Estate Inventory?
An estate inventory is a complete list of all a decedent’s assets that might be subject to probate. When you compile this list, you will also need to provide an appraisal of the value of each item. As executor, you generally have between 30 and 90 days from the date of death to complete the process.
It is important that you complete the inventory carefully and thoroughly. This is because it will outline how the decedent’s debts are to be settled, what taxes need to be paid, and how the estate is to be distributed among the beneficiaries listed in the will.
What Are the Requirements of an Estate Inventory?
In general, the executor will receive a blank inventory form from the probate court. This form usually has various sections for each category of assets.
If there is a will, you should review it before starting the inventory so that you can distinguish between assets that are to be included in probate from those that will pass to the designated beneficiary without going through probate because they were in a trust or titled in a particular way.
Next, you should gather documents and information on the various probate assets. It is often helpful to start with property deeds and titles for vehicles, as well as information about financial assets. If there are any missing items, you should attempt to recover them. Use the inventory form to record any items that you could not recover or those that might not be worth the effort.
Be sure to include a detailed list of other forms of personal property as well, such as:
It can be helpful to photograph these items for record-keeping purposes.
Conduct appraisals of any non-cash assets and include these figures in the inventory form. Additionally, be sure to include a critical description of each real estate asset.
Any assets that are jointly owned do not need to be inventoried because they tend to pass on to the surviving owner automatically.
Finally, it will be necessary to take notes of any debts the decedent owed. Check for unpaid bills such as:
- Rent arrears
- Credit cards
- Debts owed to individuals
Part of your role as executor will be to use funds from the estate to pay off debts before distributing what remains to the decedent’s beneficiaries. Be sure to carry out an accurate assessment of what is owed so you can prevent potential lawsuits from creditors.
Contact a Probate Attorney
The executor of an estate carries out important duties, and being named executor can feel complicated and overpowering sometimes. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. Speak to our probate attorneys and we will guide you through each detail of the process so that you can rest assured that you’re fulfilling your duties as diligently as possible. Contact us to schedule an initial consultation.