Probate is the legal process by which a court distributes someone’s estate. Before you can distribute an estate, you need to know what it includes. To work this out, the executor of the will needs to make an inventory of assets.
What is an inventory of assets?
An inventory of assets is a list of all the deceased person’s assets and liabilities. Here are some of the things that should be listed:
- Money in bank accounts
- Retirement plans and pensions
- Credit card debts
- Outstanding loans
Tracking down this information can take time. If the deceased person made an estate plan, this should specify most of the assets held. A probate attorney can help you determine where to look to ensure you include everything.
Do all assets need to be put in the inventory?
Assets jointly owned by a spouse and automatically passed to them are usually exempt from the list. Property in trusts is also exempt. A person can use various estate planning tools while alive to avoid specific assets passing through probate.
If the deceased left a will, then this guides the court on how to distribute things. If they died without a will or died intestate as it is known, the court will distribute the estate according to state laws.
Is probate easy to do alone?
When someone elects you to execute their estate, you want to get it right the first time. Errors could lead to delays in distributing the estate or to paying excess taxes. A probate attorney can ease the process and reassure beneficiaries that you have carried out your duties in the correct manner.