Estate Administration/ Probate Process Has Started But…

I received a letter from the clerks office to file an inventory.  What does this mean?

It’s important to be aware and informed of all your duties as Executor or Administrator of your loved one’s estate. This is partially because a lot of your duties and tasks are going to be prompted by deadlines.  These start the day you qualified and were appointed Executor or Administrator of the estate.

You’re likely getting a “Notice to File”, which is sent by the clerk’s office of where the estate is being probated, and you’re receiving it 30 days in advance of the Inventory being due. Should you miss a deadline, you may expect a second reminder, but more likely to be an “Order to File” and often served to you by the local Sheriff’s Office. And anytime the Sheriff’s Office has to get involved, it does generate a cost of $30.00 each time, for their service. If you’re unsure of what an Inventory is, please keep reading below as it will outline exactly what an Inventory should entail.

What is an Inventory?

When looking at the Inventory form, it would appear overwhelming to see what is being requested on the form. To simplify it, an Inventory is a snapshot of what the decedent owned upon passing away – so some things may or may not need to be listed at all.

Part I of Inventory

Part I of the Inventory is where you have to list assets that were not beneficiary designated or only payable to the decedent or the estate. In this section, you’re being asked to list the asset in the appropriate category by type of asset, and to confirm what the value of the asset was on the date of passing a/k/a date of death. You’ll also find that you’ll have furnish some written documentation issued by the institution housing the asset, to confirm this value. Often times, when it comes to a cash account, a bank statement is generally provided to confirm the value of the asset. For titled tangible assets, like a vehicle, you’ll want to gather a copy of the title of the vehicle and the Kelley Blue Book assessment of what the vehicle would be worth, if sold privately. Once Part I of the Inventory has been completed, you’ll find a total value at the bottom (right) of page 1, which will give you the amount that you are required to pay on filing fees. You can calculate this by knowing that you’ll be required to pay $0.40 of every $100.00, to the clerk’s office, or $15.00, whichever is greater. The clerk cannot collect more than $6,000.00 in filing fees, so if the estate is of substantial value, please monitor all fees paid to the clerk’s office, from the point of qualification to the close of the estate – and this includes the initial payment of the qualification fee of $120.00.

Part II of Inventory

Part II of the Inventory includes assets that were jointly owned with rights of survivorship. The documents you’ll gather are similar to Part I, but with certain types of assets, you’ll also have to provide documentation to confirm you were listed jointly and had rights of survivorship. For cash accounts, this can be a signature card or a letter from the bank confirming as much – which should appear on the bank’s letterhead and signed off by a representative of the bank. These assets are only listed at half value on the form, as in you were seen as having owned half of the asset prior to the date of death and the decedent owned half up to the date of death. Although Part II requests jointly owned assets, it does not request beneficiary designated assets. So, anything that passed to you as “payable on death” or simply beneficiary designated, then you may leave it off the form; and only check the bottom below the section noting that there were IRAs, etc. paid out to beneficiaries.

Real Estate

One item that you always want to be aware of is real estate owned by the decedent solely. If there are any real estate in the decedent’s name, whether owned by them in whole or in part, you’ll want to list the address and legal description of the plot in Part II and list the value (of the property) owned by the decedent. So, if the decedent only owned 1/3 of the plot, you’ll list only 1/3 of the value of the plot. If it appears that the decedent owned land in a different state or county from the domiciliary county of probate, then you’ll want to request exemplified and/or certified true copies from the domiciliary county to file in the county where the plot/land is located. If the plot or land is within the domiciliary state, but outside of the domiciliary county, you’ll want to request certified true copies. If the plot or land is outside of the domiciliary state, then you’ll want to request exemplified copies.

The work that goes into preparing an Inventory can be exhausting if you’re unsure of what the decedent owned or didn’t own on the date of death, so it’s best to connect with the former Power of Attorney, financial agent, or surviving spouse of the decedent to ensure you receive full disclosure on all the information you need to complete the Inventory.