If you have been asked to serve as an executor or personal representative of someone’s estate, there are several tasks you will have to perform as part of this role. One of these is performing an inventory of all the estate property. Also known as an inventory and accounting, this step is vital in determining not only what the estate has, but also in getting to the all-important step of determining who actually inherits what.
An accounting lists all the probate property the decedent owned at the time of death, including any debts or encumbrances. However, probate property doesn’t include everything the decedent owned. For example, jointly owned property or property that automatically transferred upon the death of the decedent to another beneficiary is not included in the accounting.
When inventorying all the property, the estate representative has to provide an objective measure of the property’s value. Fair market value of any property, whether real or personal property, is typically determined through an appraisal. It is the executor’s job to find competent appraisers and have important property appraised.
The inventory and appraisal process is controlled by the probate rules of the individual states. All states require executors to submit the initial inventory to the court within a specific amount of time, typically somewhere between 60 and 120 days. If, after filing the initial inventory, an executor discovers that there is additional property not included in the original invoice, he or she can file an amended inventory that includes the recently discovered property.