Who Signs an Inventory of an Estate and What Information Is Important?

By Jennifer Williams

The inventory of an estate is signed by the estate's executor, or personal representative. The personal representative is legally bound to preserve the estate's assets for the people who are inheriting the assets, by doing all that he can to ensure that the estate's value does not decrease during probate. Before he can preserve the value of the estate's assets, however, he must know what those assets are and he must know their value, as of the deceased's date of death. In other words, he needs an inventory.

The inventory of an estate is signed by the estate's executor, or personal representative. The personal representative is legally bound to preserve the estate's assets for the people who are inheriting the assets, by doing all that he can to ensure that the estate's value does not decrease during probate. Before he can preserve the value of the estate's assets, however, he must know what those assets are and he must know their value, as of the deceased's date of death. In other words, he needs an inventory.

Estate Inventory

An inventory is a list of every asset owned by the estate and its corresponding monetary value. The estate's personal representative inventories all the estate assets, assigns a value to each, and signs off on the inventory before submitting it to the probate court. The information important for a proper estate inventory includes a list of all estate assets, the amount or quantity of each asset, and each asset's corresponding monetary value.

Protect your loved ones by a legally binding will. Make a Will Online Now

Estate Assets

Anything owned by the deceased is legally an asset of the estate. Furniture, books, kitchen utensils including small appliances and clothing may be listed separately on the inventory, or categorized as household goods. If the estate owns any antiques, these are usually listed separately. Real estate, automobiles, water craft, art collections, jewelry and investment portfolios must also be included and valued in the inventory. In short, every item owned by the estate must be listed and valued.

Valuation

The personal representative must assign a value to each item listed in the inventory. Household goods, such as kitchen items, individual pieces of furniture, books and clothing are valued at fair market value. The personal representative may consult thrift stores, newspaper sales ads or consignment sales prices for similar items in similar physical condition to decide on a fair market value for each item. Real estate value should be determined by a professional appraiser, automobiles may be valued according to one of the industry standard manuals, such as the Kelley Blue Book, for a used automobile in similar condition. Antiques, and art and jewelry collections should be valued by a professional valuator or auction house. Investment portfolios and bank accounts should be valued according to their actual market value. The value assigned to each item should be as of the date of the decedent's death.

Non-Probate Assets

Any items owned by the deceased jointly with other individuals, such as real estate or bank accounts, should be listed as non-probate property. Ownership of the deceased's share of jointly owned property passes immediately upon the decedent's death to the other joint owners. Thus, while the property should be accounted for on the inventory, it does not constitute a probate asset as the estate retains no percentage of ownership.

Filing with the Court

The personal representative usually inventories estate assets quickly after assuming the role of personal representative. This ensures that no assets disappear or decline in physical condition, and thus value, before the personal representative can identify, value and begin preserving the assets. Some provide a statutory deadline for inventory submission. For example, Maryland requires him to complete the estate inventory and submit it to the court within three months of becoming the personal representative. California allows four months for this. Once the inventory is finished, the personal representative attests that it is true and correct by signing it. He then files inventory with the court.

Protect your loved ones by a legally binding will. Make a Will Online Now
How to Compile an Inventory of Assets for Probate Purposes

References

Related articles

What Assets Need to Be Listed for Probate?

If you are appointed as the executor or administrator of an estate, one of the most important responsibilities you have is to gather and catalog all of the decedent’s property to be included in his probate estate. A probate estate asset is property the decedent owned not automatically transferred to someone else upon his death due to contract or operation of law. The rules of probate are defined by state law; therefore, standards may vary depending on where the decedent lived.

What Has to Be Appraised for an Estate?

The purpose of probate is to pay the debts, funeral costs and taxes of a deceased person’s estate and transfer the remaining assets to his beneficiaries. The word probate is derived from the Latin word “probatio,” meaning to prove. Probate can be described as the process of proving a decedent's estate is being administered according to law. With that in mind, appraisals are used to prove the true value of assets are accounted for when they are transferred.

Inventory & Appraisement in Divorce

When spouses divorce, they can reach their own agreements about property division or rely on the court to divide their assets according to state laws. Inventories and appraisements allow the court to see a full picture of the couple’s assets and help the court make an accurate decision about how to divide those assets. Such valuations can also help the spouses and their attorneys during negotiations toward a settlement.

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

How to Be the Executor of an Estate in Arkansas

If you are named in a will as the executor of a deceased person's estate in Arkansas, chances are you are a family ...

Why Does a Probate Require an Appraisal on the Decedent's Property Upon Death?

A probate case requires the decedent's property to be appraised, in order to determine the cash value of the property ...

Simple Balance Sheet Preparation for an S Corp

An S corporation is an entity that can be taxed as a normal corporation but is permitted by the IRS to be taxed like a ...

Can an Executor Be Forced to Sell Property to Pay Debts?

When a person dies, the executor must use the estate assets to pay off the decedent's debts as well as any estate taxes ...

Browse by category