Getting prepared if you are a Successor Trustee, Executrix, Executor, or personal representative or administrator for a Will
This is being done in a 4 part series
Going through the belongings and keepsakes, (as a reminder I am not an Attorney, tax account, Tax Attorney or CPA, make sure you go through the process with them, they will give you guidance) can be a tough arduous task, but don’t try to get it done in one day or bounce around from room to room. Set up a game plan as to how to inventory the home and personal property.
Walk through the home (room by room) and take photos and prepare an inventory list of the larger more visible items in the room. Taking photos will be a great time saver, in the digital world of photos now, take multiple photos of each room. Once this first general inventory is complete, now comes the room by room search. Don’t through anything out unless it has been thoroughly searched (see below). Categorize the items but what can be thrown out, items that have a question, items needing an appraisal (antiques, art work, vases, china), and items needing to be designated for a specific beneficiary based on the wishes of the Estate.
If there is art work, vases, collectibles or antiques, you should consider getting appraisals from a personal property appraiser that deals in those types of items. You may need several niche appraisers who specialize in the type of items you must deal with. Don’t take anything for granted when dealing with an estate, sometimes even the simplest item can be something that no one expected may be of value.
After getting the list of the belongings, then refer to the Trust or Will to determine if there is something specific that goes to one of the beneficiaries. If not, then ask the beneficiaries who wants what. Let them negotiate through this process, unless it becomes unruly, then you may have to step in as the referee. If items have been valued, then you may be able to negotiate by value for different items in the home with the beneficiaries that cannot decide on their own. (Don’t give anything away at this point until all the assets have been identified, valued and the report given to either the accountant or attorney for their review.)
Next before you starting throwing things out, make sure to go through each file folder, magazine or book. You will be surprised what you might find. In dealing with my Mom’s estate, she grew up on a farm during the depression. We would find $1 here, $5, $20 in different places (including a coffee can in the trunk of her car), by the time we finished with the scavenger hunt we found enough cash and change to make the scavenger hunt worth the time. Just make sure you inspect each item before it’s in the trash bin. You might also find some important papers or old documents tied to the family that will be a great find for next generations. You just don’t know what people will put away for one reason or another.
Last item, categorize all that was inventoried, along with appraisals (and value) if any received and the items (money or documents) found. Once you get this all together if there is an attorney involved let him/her know. If not, make sure the beneficiaries know about the inventory and the wishes of the Trust or the Will. Have the beneficiaries be patient, this is time consuming and important. Next step is valuing the Real Estate.
Part 3 will cover ordering an appraisal for the real estate,
Part 4 selling the real estate
Remember this isn’t everything that is needed as each situation is different, but hopefully this will answer some questions or may you ask some more questions of the right people to assist with the process.
If you have any questions about the process, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org mobile # 909 262-3434. I will be happy to share information and I will try to guide you in the right direction.