What Does an Executor Need to Inventory for an Estate?

By Maggie Lourdes

Decedent estates are administered through probate courts by executors or personal representatives. An executor is required to gather estate property, pay debts and distribute assets to the decedent's heirs. Executors also must list the estate's assets for the court and heirs. This is accomplished by completing a court-approved inventory form. When the estate closes, the executor gives a final accounting showing debts and property distributions. States have individual laws governing the specifics for filing estate inventories.

Determine Ownership

An executor should gather proof of ownership of a decedent's assets to ensure an inventory's accuracy. For example, he should obtain the decedent's vehicle titles, property deeds and financial statements. He should also list and take control of the estate's personal property, such as family heirlooms. Partial ownership rights must also be inventoried. For example, if two people equally own a car together, and one dies, his executor must inventory his half interest.

Determine Property Value

An executor must know the estate property value to complete an inventory. This requires that an executor check state equalized values for real estate, get current account balances and obtain appraisals for things such as vehicles and jewelry. It generally does not matter if property values decline or increase during the estate's administration. It is valuation at the time of the decedent's death that is used for inventory.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Examine Asset Titles

An executor must examine how a decedent's property is titled to determine if it should be inventoried. Property held in trust or joint with survivorship rights generally should not be inventoried. For example, a house held by a decedent as joint tenants with another party should not be included. Also, if a decedent left property to a person through a trust or as a named beneficiary on a financial account, it should not be inventoried as estate property.

Give Proper Notification

An executor needs to obtain the names and addresses of a decedent's heirs. He also needs to obtain a court-approved inventory form from the court in which the estate is being probated. Once an executor completes an inventory, he must file it with the court and serve copies on all heirs at their proper addresses. An executor must also keep abreast of any newly discovered estate assets. Inventories must be updated, filed and served if new estate property is discovered.

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 Are the Heir's Rights Under a Probated Will?

A person who receives property or a share of an estate under a will has certain rights as soon as the will is probated. Probate, a court proceeding that affirms the will's validity and gives the executor the legal authority to distribute the estate, is designed to protect the rights of will beneficiaries.

How to Settle a Personal Estate

When a person creates a will, she often includes language in the will identifying a person who will serve as the executor of the estate when the will creator dies. A person who dies without a will is said to have died “intestate.” Whereas an executor handles estate assets under a will, an administrator handles a deceased person’s estate if the person died intestate. Although the titles differ, both executors and administrators are responsible for managing the distributing the decedent’s estate.

What Is an Heir Affidavit?

In many cases, a person dies without a will, or the will is declared invalid by a probate court. In such cases, distribution of the decedent's property proceeds under the state's intestate succession laws. If the decedent owned real estate, the estate must transfer title to the real estate to the rightful heirs. An heir affidavit is a document containing sworn statements designed to prove that the person named in the affidavit is a legitimate heir under state law. This permits title to real estate -- and in some states, personal property -- to be transferred to that heir.

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

Related articles

Inventory & Appraisement in Divorce

When spouses divorce, they can reach their own agreements about property division or rely on the court to divide their ...

What Is the Meaning of "Executor of an Estate"?

An executor is a person who manages the estate of the deceased, known as the decedent. Also called a personal ...

What Are the Duties of the Executor of a Last Will & Testament?

An executor is the individual who oversees and settles the estate of a deceased person. The will of the deceased person ...

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 ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED