The executor of an estate -- called the personal representative in some states -- is the person designated by the writer of a will to be in charge of closing the deceased's estate and distributing the assets. If there is no will, the court will appoint an administrator. This person's duties include reaching out to heirs and beneficiaries, distributing the estate's funds and keeping accurate records throughout the process. One of her obligations may be to furnish a list of the deceased's assets to the heirs, but requirements for this vary by state. An executor should check her state's probate laws to determine whether she must provide this inventory to heirs.
Inventory of Assets
Each state has its own procedures for drawing up an inventory of assets. In North Carolina, the executor must provide to the clerk of the Superior Court an accurate and complete inventory of the real and personal property of the deceased as of the date of death. Similarly, Connecticut specifies that financial accounts, securities, automobiles, furnishings, real estate and joint property must be enumerated on an inventory of assets. All estate property must be valued at fair market value at the time of death, and real estate must be accompanied by its legal description as it appears on the most recent deed.
Read More: What Does an Executor Need to Inventory for an Estate?
Scenario 1: Heirs Must Be Given Inventory
Compiling a complete inventory of a decedent's assets is a routine part of an executor's job in all states, but presenting this inventory to heirs is not a uniform matter. Connecticut is one state that requires all interested parties to receive a copy of the inventory. In Georgia, the personal representative must certify to having mailed a copy of the inventory to each heir, if the decedent died without a will, or to each beneficiary, if he died with a will.
Scenario 2: Heirs Need Not Receive Inventory
Other states do not specifically require that heirs receive copies of the inventory of assets. For example, North Carolina and New Hampshire require only that an inventory of assets be filed with the probate court within specified time periods. Although Georgia generally requires heirs to receive an inventory of assets, the executor need not provide a copy in certain cases, such as when the heir or beneficiary is a minor or an incapacitated adult, or when the heir has waived her right, in writing, to receive a copy of the inventory.
In some cases, the executor must provide an heir with a copy of the inventory of assets only under certain conditions. For example, Colorado offers the flexibility of closing an estate formally or informally. In formal estates, the executor must submit a court-approved inventory to the probate court within three months of appointment, and in informal estates, the executor simply provides a copy to all interested persons. In Virginia, executors are required to send a copy of the inventory to every entitled person, such as heirs, who specifically make a request for it. Thus, the inventory is mandatory only when it is requested.
- Fox Business: Four Tips for the Executor of an Estate
- North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts: Estate Procedures for Executors, Administrators, Collectors by Affidavit and Summary Administration
- Elder Law Answers: What Is Required of an Executor?
- Supreme Court of Virginia: Instructions for Inventory -- Decedent's Estate
- Superior Court of Arizona: Order to Personal Representative and Acknowledgment and Information to Heirs/Devisees
Timothea Xi has been writing business and finance articles since 2013. She has worked as an alternative investment adviser in Miami, specializing in managed futures. Xi has also worked as a stockbroker in New York City.