When a person dies, she often leaves assets intended to be passed on to beneficiaries under the terms of a will. In most cases, an executor or personal representative is named to oversee the legal process, known as probate, which distributes the assets. One of the first responsibilities of the executor or personal representative is to notify the beneficiaries of assets left by the decedent. A letter typically is sent to each beneficiary with a complete list of all assets and the value of each asset at the time of death.
Request appraisals on the real and personal property as well as any business assets if this has not been done. There are companies that specialize in appraising personal estate assets after the death of a decedent. Likewise, a company that specializes in appraising the value of a business and/or business assets should be consulted if business assets are included in the estate. A certified appraiser should be used to appraise any real property.
Obtain current balances for deposit accounts, stocks, bonds and other investment accounts such as retirement accounts. Payoff amounts for mortgages or other loans secured by an asset should also be obtained.
Separate the assets into the following categories: real property, personal property, deposit accounts, investment accounts, business and insurance.
List each entry under the categories with a brief description of the asset as well as the appraised value. If the asset is used to secure a debt, as in the case of a mortgage, the value of the property should be listed followed by the payoff amount subtracted to note a net value.
Complete the letter with a total amount of all assets, a total for all debts secured by the assets and a net value of all assets.