How to Check on a Deceased's Personal Assets

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Dealing with the death of a family member or close friend is emotionally difficult. However, the days and weeks immediately following a death can also be stressful on business partners and others who were financially dependent on the deceased. Although estate laws vary significantly from state to state, all states have strict laws concerning access to the assets of the deceased. In almost all cases, only the executor or the administrator of the estate has access to the financial records, bank accounts and so forth, so all inquiries and transactions involving the estate of the deceased must go through the executor.

Find out who is the executor of the estate in whose assets you are interested. In many cases a surviving spouse will be the executor, but if there is no surviving spouse it could be anyone from another close relative to a family friend or long-time personal attorney. The executor is required to post a notice of death in the local newspaper, including his name and contact information, and the county probate court will also have the executor's name on record for all wills currently under probate.

Contact the executor of the estate. Demonstrate a legitimate reason for requesting information about the assets of the deceased. In general, release of any information is entirely up to the executor of an estate. Some individuals with valid reasons for inquiring about assets are those who hold debts from the deceased, business partners and beneficiaries of the estate, all of whom have a legitimate need for information for planning purposes.

Provide all documentation of your relationship with the deceased and need for information on the estate's assets. Complete any required paperwork for access to the financial records of the estate.

Be patient. Depending on the estate, it can takes weeks or months for an executor to find and account for all of the assets and debts of the estate. And, depending on the executor and the specific circumstances of the estate, you might have to wait quite a while for detailed information.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are having difficulty identifying the executor of an estate as the death is very recent and no official steps have been taken yet, consider talking to family members or neighbors of the deceased to see if they know the executor.
  • In most states, anyone holding debts against an estate has one year to bring claims, so no pecuniary distributions of an estate can occur for at least one full year.

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