Locating Assets, Accounts and Debts While Probating an Estate
When a loved one or friend passes away and designates you as the executor of their will, your responsibilities include locating and gathering the estate’s assets, finding and paying the estate’s debts and then distributing the remaining assets according to the will’s instructions. Depending on your relationship with the deceased, you may have complete knowledge of their financial situation or you may have no idea what to expect.
Even in cases of children probating a parent’s will, there are often surprises. People have a variety of reasons for keeping assets, property or debts hidden from their family and friends. When it comes time to locate property, these tips can help:
- First, search the decedent’s home for financial records. You may find bank statements, passbooks, safe deposit receipts or other paperwork that can point you in the right direction. Some people leave detailed information in an easy-to-find folder. Others have paperwork scattered throughout their home. If you have access to tax returns, you may find bank accounts and other assets listed there. Monitoring mail at the deceased person’s home for at least a year after their death should result in receiving clues about nearly all of their accounts.
- Next, you may be able to find out bank information from those who received payments from the deceased. While it may not be easy to get the information, utility companies and other businesses often have records of where payments came from. If you cannot find out where the deceased person had accounts, you can try bringing their death certificate to every local bank until you’ve exhausted your options.
- You can also search for unclaimed money or other unclaimed assets, such as pensions and benefits, using national or Florida online databases. You can also consult with the decedent’s lawyer, friends and family for clues.
For help conducting the probate process, consult an experienced Florida probate attorney at the Charles Law Offices.