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

References

Related articles

Probate Account vs. Probate Inventory

During the probate process, the estate's personal representative, often called the executor, is required to complete multiple steps before inheritances can be distributed and the estate closed. Two of these steps are a probate inventory and a probate accounting. Though similar in some respects, the probate inventory and the probate accounting have distinct differences and purposes.

Can You File a Small Estate in Arkansas if You Have a Will?

Probate is a court-supervised procedure that involves the appointment of an executor to collect and distribute property owned by the deceased. The process can be time consuming, and it may take several months for administrators to distribute the estate to all heirs. However, Arkansas offers a quicker substitute for probate in cases where the estate has only limited property. This is known as small-estate administration and, unlike neighboring Louisiana, there is no requirement that the deceased person died intestate or without a will.

What to Do When Someone Dies Without Leaving a Will?

When someone dies without a will or other estate planning direction, this is legally known as dying "intestate." Intestate estates are distributed to heirs according to state statutes. Spouses and children are first in line to inherit intestate estates. If there is no spouse or children, then next of kin inherit. An intestate estate must pass through probate court before it is distributed to heirs. If there are no relatives, an intestate estate passes to the state.

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

Related articles

Idaho Law Regarding Death & Probate

When an Idaho resident dies, his property may be subject to probate. Probate is the process of transfering ownership of ...

What Are the Duties of an Executor of a Will in Delaware?

In Delaware, residents may draft wills directing the distribution of their property after death. A testator, or will ...

What Is an Appointed Executor of a Will?

A person names an executor, also called a personal representative, in her will. When the person dies, her will must be ...

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

The inventory of an estate is signed by the estate's executor, or personal representative. The personal representative ...

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED