How to Compile an Inventory of Assets for Probate Purposes

By Victoria McGrath

Estate representatives face the monumental task of reconciling all the deceased's assets after death. After decades of acquiring communal and personal assets, the estate must account for each item and assess its value -- in a matter of weeks. The time frame for filing a property inventory varies from state to state, depending on the rules of the probate court. In most jurisdictions, the court requires an official probate form to be used for the inventory of assets. The estate representative compiles a list of real estate, personal property, bank accounts and debts as line items with a detailed description of each item and its fair market value.

Step 1

Contact the court to obtain the name and title of the required probate inventory form. Request a copy to be mailed to you, pick-up a copy at the court or download a copy from the court's website. Search under court forms and probate law. Forms vary state by state.

Step 2

Read the form instructions step-by-step. Review the sections on the form. The form should generally include sections for real property, personal property, bank accounts, retirement, 401Ks and IRAs. Additional sections may include debts and non-probate assets.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Step 3

List all of the real property assets. Include in-state property and out-of-state property. Obtain copies of the deeds. Provide a description of the real estate, with its physical address. List the fair market value of the property, based on the most recent assessment by the tax assessor. An appraisal may be required for all real estate.

Step 4

List all personal property assets. Create subcategories of personal property, such as recreational vehicles, entertainment equipment and expensive jewelry. List each item under the appropriate category, with a complete description and its fair market value. Collections of music, stamps or coins can be listed and valued as a unit.

Step 5

List all bank accounts. Include the name of the bank, bank account number, all names listed on the account and actual cash value. The actual cash value refers to the exact dollar and change amount at the time of death. List outstanding checks separately, under debt.

Step 6

List any retirement accounts, 401K or IRAs. Include the names of the beneficiaries. Clarify if any retirement funds must be paid out to former spouses. Obtain divorce settlement documents regarding division of retirement funds.

Step 7

List all other debts, such as credit card debts, past due medical bills, unpaid invoices and personal loans. Include outstanding checks in this section. Do not include funeral expenses or debts acquired after death by the estate.

Step 8

List all non-probate assets on a separate reference sheet, in case anyone questions why these assets are not accounted for in the probate inventory. Non-probate assets are distributed according to prior contractual agreements. For example, a house owned jointly by both spouses, with rights of survivorship or as tenants in the entirety, transfers legally, without probate.

Step 9

Include living trusts, life insurance policies with named beneficiaries and investment accounts that transferred on death, as non-probate assets. If the court inquires about these assets, the executor can easily reference the list of non-probate assets and explain their absence from the probate inventory.

Step 10

Ascertain the appraisal value of all cash and non-cash probate assets. For example, the cash value of a bank account can be obtained from a bank statement, based on the date the deceased died. Non-cash items, such as real estate, vehicles, art work and jewelry, often require professional appraisals.

Step 11

File the completed probate inventory form with the state probate court, within the legal time limit. Submit two attachments with the inventory form -- one attachment for cash assets appraised by the estate representative and one for non-cash assets to be appraised by a court-appointed representative, if necessary.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Why Does a Probate Require an Appraisal on the Decedent's Property Upon Death?
 

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.

How to Assign a Value to Property in a Will

Assigning values to property in your will helps you balance your will's provisions and avoid will contests after your death by unsatisfied beneficiaries. The evaluation of property included in a will during probate, the proceeding used to settle an estate of a person who left a will, is usually the responsibility of the executor, the person named in the will or appointed by the court to oversee the estate's financial affairs.

Must All Wills Be Probated?

Whether or not a will must be probated depends on the laws of the state where the deceased resided at death. Some states, but not all, have procedures designed to provide for the acquisition and distribution of estate assets without the need to probate the will through formal court proceedings. The requirements for these procedures vary among the states that allow it. In general, the availability of the procedure depends on the value and type of property in the estate.

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

Related articles

How to Get a Copy of a Probated Will

A copy of a probated will is useful for a variety of reasons, including family tree research, property title research, ...

What Kinds of Things Can Be Assessed in a Probate With No Will?

When a person dies intestate, without a will, the probate court oversees the estate administrator and the division of ...

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 ...

How to Open an Estate With Probate Court in Louisiana

Opening an estate with a Louisiana probate court is accomplished by filing a pleading called a “petition of possession” ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED