Part of an executor’s job is to account for everything the decedent leaves behind. Many of the items you have to account for, such as investment accounts, real estate, and bank accounts, are very easy to identify and value. One of the harder tasks you may face, however, is categorizing and valuing the mountains of personal property that some people leave behind. Here are some practical concerns you will need to be prepared to deal with when you begin the inventorying and valuation process.
Having a Plan
Tackling personal property is often about breaking the task up into smaller tasks and taking it one step at a time. For example, developing an inventory is often more easily accomplished when you go through the decedent’s home room by room. Creating an inventory that lists the personal effects found in each room is often much easier than doing it all at one time.
Grouping and Separating
Many of the personal effects people leave behind are small items, such as books, photo albums, and trinkets. When inventorying these items you can often group them together by, for example, listing them as “40 paperback books,” or “18 electronic equipment cords.” You will want to be on the lookout for potentially valuable property, using identifying marks to highlight such items in your list. For example, an antique book or a signed first edition might be rather valuable, and you may need to have those inspected by an appraiser.
This is just one of the many tasks imposed upon the personal representative of a deceased person’s estate in probate. Working with an experienced and qualified probate attorney can help make these tasks easier to complete.