23 Feb Inventories and Accountings in Probate
What is an estate inventory?
An estate inventory is essentially a list of assets that the deceased owned. It can include personal property, real estate, automobiles, bank accounts, investment accounts, business interests, and animals. It is the responsibility of the executor or personal representative to marshal these assets and administer them pursuant to the decedent’s Last Will and Testament, or if no Last Will and Testament exists, pursuant to the intestate laws of the state where the decedent died. Finding a decedent’s assets may be challenging in cases where no estate plan or related documents were in place and there was little contact between the estate administrator and the decedent. However, with the help of an experienced probate attorney, the assets can typically be tracked down through various methods, which typically involve combing the decedent’s bank and credit card account statements and sometimes, utilizing an asset search firm.
It is always helpful to include in your own estate plan a balance sheet, which lists the assets that you and/or your partner or spouse own as well as the last 4 digits of the account numbers. We typically recommend that our clients keep their balance sheet with their estate plan and update it annually or upon a major change in assets.
What is an Accounting?
An accounting is a summary of all receipts and distributions with respect to an estate. It also shows a listing of all of the assets of the estate, taken from the inventory created, with a summary of the income and/or sales proceeds and expenses related to that specific inventory item. It also shows any expenses and debts paid. Expenses must be paid in the order of priority, as set forth in The Probate Act. If there are insufficient estate assets to pay all of the expenses of administration and debts of the decedent, then the estate is deemed insolvent and the heirs or legatees will not receive their inheritance. If there is a surplus remaining after the payment of expenses and debts, the accounting will show the distributions that will go to the beneficiaries.
Both the inventory and the accounting must be prepared accurately and in accordance with Illinois law. We are well versed in these fiduciary statements and are prepared to assist our clients with this often-cumbersome process. If you are the administrator or executor of an estate needing assistance with the administration process, #GQ Law is happy to assist.