When a loved one dies, it may be necessary for their estate to go through probate—a court-supervised process in which his or her estate is settled, outstanding debts are paid and assets are distributed to the deceased person’s heirs. An executor is tasked with overseeing the probate process. For our clients, the binder Beck, Lenox & Stolzer provides gives some important to-dos for the executor, including the important task of submitting a detailed inventory of the estate to the probate court. This blog explains how to conduct an estate inventory.
Here is a great article from Yahoo Finance entitled “What Is Included in an Estate Inventory?” During probate, the executor is charged with several duties, including collecting assets, estimating the fair market value of all assets in the estate, ascertaining the ownership status of each asset and liquidating assets to pay off outstanding debts, if needed. The probate court will need to see an inventory of the estate’s assets before distributing those assets to the deceased’s heirs.
An estate inventory includes all the assets of an estate belonging to the individual who has passed away. It can also include a listing of the person’s liabilities or debts. In terms of assets, this would include:
- Bank accounts, checking accounts, savings accounts, money market accounts and CDs
- Investment accounts
- Business interests
- Real estate
- Pension plans and workplace retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s, 403(b)s and 457 plans
- Life insurance, disability insurance, annuities and long-term care insurance
- Intellectual property, such as copyrights, trademarks and patents
- Household items
- Personal effects
Here’s what’s included in an estate inventory on the liabilities side:
- Home mortgages;
- Outstanding business loans, personal loans and private student loans;
- Auto loans associated with a vehicle included on the asset side of the inventory
- Credit cards and open lines of credit
- Any unpaid medical bills
- Unpaid taxes; and
- Any other outstanding debts, including unpaid court judgments.
There is usually no asset or liability that’s too small to be included in the estate inventory. If you are unsure of how to conduct an estate inventory and an estate planning attorney had done estate planning for your deceased loved one, check with that attorney for basic guidance. If estate administration is too overwhelming for you, you can discuss the attorney taking over that responsibility.
Reference: Yahoo Finance (Feb. 15, 2022) “What Is Included in an Estate Inventory?”