How to gather assets for probate
If you’ve been named the executor/administrator of an estate, your foremost task is to go about gathering all documentation for their assets in order to ensure everything gets transferred, but this is not always an easy task.
You might be wondering how to find all the assets of the deceased to make sure you don’t leave anything behind. Follow these steps to rest easy knowing you have done everything possible to search for the assets of the estate.
5 steps to find assets and documents for estates
1) Go through all hard copy records
Most people keep important financial and ownership records filed away in their home. You need to make a point of looking everywhere for them.
What documents to look for
- Wills and Trusts
- Financial Records: Statements and Bills
- Insurance Documents: Life, Medical, Property
- Tax Returns
- Rolodex: Look for the professional advisors (Investment, Bankers, Attorneys, Insurance)
2) Check all mail
Most people who own financial assets (bank accounts, investments, retirement accounts etc) will get monthly or quarterly statements in the mail. Simply gather them up and begin contacting each institution. Ask them to either send funds to the estate account you have created, or to change the name to the estate of the deceased.
3) Look through email accounts for electronic statements
This is a very important step as many people do not receive paper statements any more and only receive electronic statements.
- Additionally a good look at their computer (assuming you can gain access) will provide you with more accounts. Look through the browser history or if they have a password manager for login info to various institutions.
4) Obtain last three years tax returns
Any asset that provides income, or accounts where investments have been sold will be reported in the tax return.
- Look for the paper records for past tax returns and look at any dividends, interests and capital gains reported.
- Contact the IRS and ask for transcripts of the returns. You will need to be appointed executor/administrator first by the courts before IRS will grant past returns.
5) Search for unclaimed property in any state where the deceased lived or worked.
- Unclaimed property is any property that went unclaimed by the deceased. These could be interest, dividends or stock splits that deceased never “cashed”. Or any income due to deceased that went unclaimed.
- Simply google “unclaimed property” and the name of state to get links to each state’s unclaimed property website.
Handling paperwork to do with estate transfers after a death is never an easy thing to do, but the sooner you get searching for important papers, the sooner you can start the probate process.
If you have questions or need help don't hesitate to contact us.