Determine Estate Assets

Not all assets owned by the decedent become “probatable assets”. Property that passes outside of probate include property held in joint tenancy and accounts with a payable on death designation (also referred to as a beneficiary designation) or a transfer on death designation.

Although at first blush identifying the assets of the estate seems simple, determining assets of the estate is a ripe area for disagreement. Some of the more common areas for disagreement are:

  1. Surviving spouse claims property of the estate is their community or separate property.
  2. Mom or dad put a child’s name on a bank account for convenience but it was not mom or dad’s wishes that it go to the child as a joint account owner. Instead, it was agreed that after death the account would be divided up amongst the son’s siblings (mom and dad’s other children) as the rest of estate was in the will. The argument is that the money was held in trust for the benefit of the other children
  3. A person, during life, gave something away but did not deliver it before they died. The person was who was given the item files a lawsuit for that item to be delivered in accordance with their agreement.

An inventory and appraisal of all estate property needs to be prepared and filed by the Personal Representative within four months of Letters being issued.


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