The distribution of personal property may be the most dramatic and gratifying of all the steps in estate administration. You give people who have recently lost someone they loved mementos to help them remember that person. Additionally, you might give out assets that really improves somebody’s quality of life.
Once you have tackled debt repayments, taxes and other probate requirements, you will finally get to distribute property to heirs. Taking an inventory immediately when you assume possession of the deceased person’s property is an important step to make sure that no one steals from the estate and that you don’t face allegations of stealing anything yourself.
How to do an initial estate inventory
Once you have access to someone’s property and a copy of their will, you can make a point of locating the physical assets specifically mentioned in the will. Beyond that, you will want to create a thorough inventory of all personal property and accounts.
You may need to assign estimated values to assets at first, although appraisals may be necessary in the case of very valuable and hard-to-price items like real estate or art. By creating a thorough record of what possessions the estate has, you can later show that you distributed everything appropriately. When you perform the inventory, you may want to move certain assets to a more secure location or secure the property itself by changing the locks.
The inventory you create won’t necessarily stop family members from trying to steal valuable belongings from the estate, but it will at least give you evidence that something went missing. It can also show that you have done your due diligence by trying to secure and track the assets belonging to the estate. Being proactive early on during estate administration will help protect you from mistakes and also claims from the beneficiaries of the estate.