Previously, we discussed the process of getting into court and having you appointed as the executor over your loved one’s estate. It’s important to realize that there is still a lot left to do at that point with regard to the handling of the estate and now a limited time clock starts to run.
After you qualify as executor, you will have 90 days to prepare (and file with the county clerk) a single written instrument that contains a verified, full, and detailed inventory of all estate property that has come into your possession - or of which you have knowledge. This is what is referred to as the “inventory.”
Preparing an inventory is important not just because the law requires it, but also to determine the game plan for how the estate is going to be disposed. It lists what is in the estate which is of value and also gives you an idea of what will need to be formally appraised. It will also help you to determine what will be easy to handle and what will take more time.
For example, a bank account is easy to disburse and it is a matter of simple math to divide into equal shares among the beneficiaries, but real property can be a little more complicated. You may need to appoint an appraiser, who will then determine the value of the property, or you may need to have a licensed real estate professional handle the sale of the property. Real property can also take weeks or months to sell, so this adds to the complexity.
You will need to know where all the real property which belongs to the estate is located. Most counties have appraisal districts or online deed records and searching the deceased’s name in various counties can be a good place to start finding this sort of information. For the personal property, you will need to list all of the things that are of substantial value, regardless of where they are currently located. What kinds of personal property should be listed? Typically, this is items such as automobiles, boats, and equipment.
Next, you will need to classify what assets should be considered “community property” and which will be considered “separate property.” The classification of the property is significant because it will determine what fractional share each beneficiary will receive.
Finally, you will need to determine the fair market value of all that property at the time of your loved one’s death. There are a lot of online resources available that can help calculate the fair market value for some of these items, but as hard as it is to believe, the internet doesn’t have all the answers. If you have trouble determining the fair market value for some of the items in the estate, the court can always appoint an appraiser to assist you in this task. Appraisers are professionals who can help you answer those value determining questions that you cannot solve on your own. Once you assign values to the property, an appraisement can be prepared which will become part of your inventory.
Aside from the inventory and appraisement, another thing you must prepare is the “list of claims.”
The “list of claims” is exactly what it sounds like - a complete list of the claims due or owed to the estate. You will have to list the name and last known address for each person indebted to the estate. With regard to each claim, you will need to state what type of debt it is. Is it a debt by a note, a bill, a bond, or some other sort of written obligation? You will need to know when the debt is due and, most importantly, the amount of the claim. If, by chance, there is interest associated with the debt, you will also need to specify the interest rate and the time period for which the claim bears interest. Again, you don’t want to forget to classify the debt as either community or separate property.
Remember, you have 90 days to get all of this done after you officially become the executor. It might seem overwhelming, but if you have the help of a knowledgeable attorney, it can be very manageable.
The attorney can get you in touch with the professionals you need to get this inventory prepared - and keep you on track for reaching the finish line in time. In some cases, the attorney can even buy you more time to get all this information together. Preparing an inventory can be complicated, but if you have the right professionals by your side, the complicated can become pretty simple.
Contact Sung R. Kim, Attorney at Law for Aggressive, Hands-On Representation in Longview, Texas