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Inventory and Management of Assets

What is an Inventory?

An Inventory is a list of all property owned by the person who died and the value of each item of property at the time of the person's death. The Personal Representative must prepare this list within three months of the date of his or her appointment.

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How do I prepare an Inventory?

You can file:

Inventory of Property, P-370 Adobe Acrobat PDF logo

For each item of property owned by the person who died, you must include the following:

It is also helpful if you do the following:

If you hired a professional appraiser to value any property, you must list the appraiser's name and address next to the item that was appraised.

You must send a copy to any interested person who asks for it.

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How do I value property for the Inventory?

You must use the fair market value for each item of estate property. This means the reasonable price that an unrelated person would pay for the property in its "as is" condition at the date of the person's death. You can hire a professional appraiser to help you decide what something is worth.

Below are guidelines to help you decide on a value for common types of property:

Type of Property
Ways to Value
Real property
  • Use the tax assessment at the date of death.
  • Compare recent sales made to unrelated persons.
  • Use an Appraisal from a qualified appraiser (valuing the property as of the date of death).
  • Use a Broker's Opinion of Value from a real estate professional (valuing the property as of the date of death).

Vehicles (cars, boats, trailers, ATVs)

  • Use an online service such as Kelley Blue Book, Nada or Edmunds.
  • Compare items for sale in the newspaper or on Craigslist.

Personal effects

  • Value as a group unless something is especially valuable.  If the items are only sentimental, you can value these at zero.

Household furnishings

  • Value as a group unless something is especially valuable.  The value of household furnishings is what someone would pay for the property "as is," not how much the person paid for them or how much it would cost to replace them.

Valuable personal property (paintings, furs, jewelry, firearms, antiques, collections)

  • List valuable items separately.  Have the property professionally appraised if necessary.

Bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, 401k plans, annuities

  • Use the balance at the date of death including interest earned through that date.

Pension plans

  • Use the death benefit, if any.  If the pension ends at the person's death, it has no value and you do not need to include it on the Inventory.

Life insurance

  • Use the death benefit.

Business interests

  • Use the price recently paid for the business.
  • Use the value listed in an agreement between the partners.
  • Hire a professional business appraiser.
  • Use the value of the property used in the business if the business will not continue after the person's death.

There are many other types of property and some can be hard to value. You should talk to a probate lawyer if you have questions about how to value property.

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What do I do with the Inventory?

You must send a copy to any interested person who asks for it. You can also file the original with the court.

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How do I find property owned by the person who died?

It can be hard to find all of the property owned by the person who died. Below are helpful steps that you can take:

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What do I with the property once I find it?

You must gather the property owned by the person who died by taking possession or control of it. However, you can leave the property with the person who is supposed to receive it if you do not need it for the probate. You must carefully manage and protect all estate property for the benefit of interested persons, including creditors, beneficiaries and heirs.

For more information on how to manage the most common types of property, see:

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How do I manage financial accounts and cash?

You will need to close the bank accounts and investment accounts owned by the person who died. You must also collect all cash benefits from life insurance policies and other sources if they are payable to the estate. It is a good idea to open an estate checking account to combine all of these funds in one place. It is also easier to prepare an Accounting if you pay claims and probate expenses from a single account.

*Important: Do not deposit anything into the estate bank account other than estate property. Use the account only for probate purposes. You must keep all estate funds separate from your own personal funds.

If the estate has a large amount of money, you can also open an estate savings account or an estate investment account. You can choose to keep the person's investment accounts with the same brokerage company but you will need to change the owner of the accounts to the estate.

When you open any new estate account, you will need a certified copy of the Letters and the estate EIN. You should never use the social security number of the person who died or your own social security number to identify an estate account.

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How should I manage real property?

The Personal Representative should do the following things, when appropriate:

In most cases, you can leave title to real property in the name of the person who died until you are ready to transfer it to the right persons. For more information on changing the title of real property, see Transferring Assets.

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How should I manage personal property?

The Personal Representative should do the following things, when appropriate:

In most cases, you can leave title to personal property (if any) in the name of the person who died until you are ready to transfer it to the right persons. You can also leave personal property with the real property or with the rightful heir or beneficiary, if convenient. For more information on changing the title of personal property, see Transferring Assets.

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Can I throw away items or donate them to charity?

Yes, if the property has so little value that it does not benefit the estate. For example, you can give away or throw out old furniture, clothing or household items in poor shape. But you can only donate valuable items to charity, such as expensive paintings or jewelry, if the person who died pledged to do this in writing before his or her death.

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What if I find more property after I complete the Inventory?

If you find new property or need to change something on the original Inventory, you must prepare a "supplementary inventory." You must send the supplementary inventory to those persons who received the original Inventory and file it with the court if you filed the original with the court.

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How do I transfer property to the persons who are supposed to receive it?

For information on when and how to transfer property to beneficiaries or heirs, see Distribution of Estate Assets and Transferring Assets.

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Where can I learn more about the different tasks for Personal Representatives?

You can learn more about the:

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Rev. 28 July 2014
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