After a loved one dies in Indiana, their will or the court may have named you as the executor of the estate. This means you will see the estate through the probate process.
Probate is the process in which assets are collected, heirs are notified, debts and taxes are paid and the terms of the deceased’s will are carried out.
Being named executor is an honor, but it comes with many duties. One of the first duties you will have as an executor is to complete an inventory of the deceased’s assets and debts.
What types of property should be inventoried?
As an executor, you must complete a comprehensive inventory of the deceased’s assets and debts. This is one of the first steps in the probate process. Some assets that must be inventoried include:
- Financial accounts, retirement accounts and annuities
- Real estate, including a home, condominium, investment property or vacation property
- Automobiles, jewelry and personal property
You will have to locate all of the deceased’s assets and determine their fair market value. This way, you can pay back the deceased’s debts out of estate funds and you can distribute the assets per the terms of the deceased’s will or per state intestacy statutes if the deceased left no will.
Still, not all of the deceased’s assets need to be included in the inventory. Some assets are excluded from probate, such as:
- Real estate held in joint tenancy
- Joint financial accounts
- Life insurance policies
- Transfer-on-death accounts
- Any assets held in a revocable or irrevocable trust
These assets bypass probate because they have a joint owner or named beneficiary who receives the assets automatically following the deceased’s passing. Because they do not go through probate, they are not included in the inventory.
As an executor, you have many responsibilities to the estate and must perform your duties in a manner that promotes the best interests of the estate. This can make probate intimidating, especially for those with little to no experience in the process. For this reason, many executors choose to seek the help they need to better understand their legal responsibilities.