Evaluating Personal Property Value in an Estate

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One of the more difficult practical concerns facing executors and estate representatives is the problem of determining the value of personal property left behind by decedent. When someone dies, it’s usually not the large items such as their real estate, investment accounts, and other highly valuable assets that pose a problem, but rather it’s the mountain of tangible personal property. Here are some practical concerns you’ll have to deal with:

Categorical Values in the Inventory

When you assemble an estate inventory to submit to the probate court, the inventory will typically list categories of personal property. For example, you might include general categories of clothing, furniture, or personal electronics. For purposes of the inventory, it is usually acceptable to include these general categories and then assign an estimated value, such as $2,000 for furniture.

Itemized values

While you don’t necessarily need to submit itemized inventory lists to the probate court clerk when it comes to tangible personal property, keeping an itemized list for your own purposes is often beneficial. Using a spreadsheet or an inventory logbook is probably the best way to do this.  Another option is to hire a home inventory specialist.

If you are going to dispose of tangible personal property through an estate sale, you can keep a list of each item and then include how much the item sold for. This will give you a much better accounting of the estate value. You’ll also be able to use this information to distribute funds to creditors or beneficiaries.

You can learn a lot more about probate at one of our next wills and living trusts legacy wealth planning workshops. Register for one of these workshops by going to our workshop page, or contact our office for more information.

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