One of the main jobs of an executor or personal representative is to create an inventory of the decedent’s property. With this information, the executor/personal representative can decide how assets are to be allotted among beneficiaries. As an executor or personal representative, there are several ways you can locate a decedent’s assets.
Using the Will or Trust
Many people start by looking at their loved one’s Will or living trust. They may already have a copy of this or they may get a copy from the decedent’s estate planning attorney. The decedent’s Will, if it is up-to-date, should contain a full inventory of their assets and outline their wishes for their assets. However, note that it’s possible that some assets could be missing from the Will, either due to simple oversight or because the decedent did not think they were valuable enough to list.
Other Legal Documents
Other legal documents may give greater detail on assets, particularly retirement funds, real estate, businesses, and high-value items that are covered by insurance. Look for documents that verify the authenticity of the value of antiques, jewelry, and other high-value items. Ideally, you may find all of this documentation in a safe deposit box or filing cabinet.
Identifying and Listing Assets
An executor/personal administrator should also document and categorize assets in person. It is recommended that the executor do this as soon as possible after the decedent’s death, prior to family members claiming items or entering the home. All items with sentimental or financial value should be documented. From there, the executor may have to get some items professionally assessed to determine their financial value.
Obtaining a List From the Executor
The court often relies on documentation from the executor or personal representative when looking for assets in probate. If they have reason to believe that the executor or personal representative has stolen from the estate or is attempting to hide assets, they may do a more extensive search of court documents and filings to uncover other properties and assets. They may also require additional documentation if the executor has not documented their handling of funds or the value, location, and condition of assets.
If all the beneficiaries agree with the provided documentation of assets, the probate process may continue without further delay. If one or more people object to the executor’s documentation, accuse the executor of mishandling funds, or believe that the executor is hiding assets, the court may investigate further to try to find additional assets. This can significantly delay the probate process.As you get ready for the probate process, it’s important to know your responsibilities and obligations as an executor or personal representative. Get the support and legal advice you need by contacting The Probate Law Firm at (305) 456-3255.