Many articles explaining the probate process, and even this blog, often state just how important it is for personal representatives and surviving family members to create an inventory of their loved one’s property. It is not only necessary for the probate process, but it can also make it much easier for you and your family to navigate probate during the tough time after your loved one’s death.
However, many people still have the question: how do you create an inventory?
An inventory is a list that should include details such as:
1. Descriptions of the assets
The inventory should include a short description of each asset. California law determines that assets generally fall into three categories:
- Real property, which includes real estate or land;
- Tangible property, such as vehicles, heirlooms or furniture; and
- Intangible property, which includes financial accounts or stocks.
It is also helpful if you describe the characteristics and details of the asset. This description does not have to be elaborate. It only has to be enough of a description to identify the asset.
2. Appraisals of the asset’s value
As the personal representative, it is also your responsibility to calculate the values of each asset, to determine the value of the estate at the time of your loved one’s death. This is essential to distribute the assets among heirs and beneficiaries.
Some property, such as your loved one’s home, will have to be appraised. California law outlines the procedure of:
- Which assets must be appraised; and
- How to appraise them.
3. Records of how your loved one owned the property
There are many assets that your loved one may have owned separately or jointly with their spouse. This can change how you distribute assets, so it is critical to determine how your loved one owned each asset in the inventory.
4. Whether there is a debt owed regarding this asset
It is also helpful to determine which assets still have debts tied to them as well. Often, these assets include the home or vehicles.
During the probate process, the personal representative will be in charge of paying off remaining debts in their loved one’s name. Therefore, organizing these loans in the inventory can help make this process easier for your family.
Often, individuals who create a will include an inventory in their estate plan. This can make creating an inventory much easier. However, it is still essential for personal representatives to make their own inventory and determine the value of the estate after their loved one passes.