Tips for Handling the Estate of a Loved One — Finding Assets
About four in ten married people will be tasked with managing the estate of a loved one at some point in their lives. Most often, it is the estate of a recently deceased spouse, because couples usually name each other as primary executor when making last wills and testaments. The next most common scenario for executors is managing the estate of a recently deceased parent. Either way, the executor's duties are largely the same as the estate goes through the probate process.
An executor must locate and protect assets
For all practical purposes, the executor works for the beneficiaries, or those who stand to inherit from the estate, so one of the first duties is to gather, inventory and secure assets of the estate. Even if the executor is a beneficiary as well, the duty to locate and protect assets is the same.
Where should an executor start looking for assets
If the deceased was your spouse, going through his or her personal effects may intensify your grief, but the good news is you won't have to deal with a surviving spouse who may not want you going through the deceased's papers and personal belongings.
This could be the case if you are managing your parent's estate and your parent left a surviving spouse who is not your parent. You will need to coordinate with this step-parent to inventory estate assets.
If the surviving spouse refuses to cooperate, you may need an order from the probate court addressing the specific issue. An experienced probate attorney can help you through this process.
What is an executor looking for in the personal effects?
The personal effects and papers of the decedent generally include checkbooks, bank statements and insurance policies, among other items. People usually keep receipts from large purchases, which could be assets of the estate, as well as tax returns, which may reveal the existence of investment property and depreciable business property.
If nothing else, the information found in the decedent's personal effects can point you in the right direction for further inquiry at banking and investment institutions known to have been used by the decedent.
Call our office today for help handling an estate
We understand that serving as executor for your loved one's estate is a big responsibility. The attorneys at Peterson Law Group have extensive experience guiding clients through the estate probate process, whether you need assistance with a single issue or managing the estate from start to finish. Contact the Peterson Law Group today at 979-703-7014 to set up a time to meet with us or visit us online to sign up for our newsletter.