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I’M A PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE. DO I NEED TO FILE AN INVENTORY OF THE ESTATE?

By Lane V. Erickson, Idaho Estate Planning Attorney

As an Idaho estate planning and probate attorney I often help individuals and families through the probate process when a loved one passes away. This usually includes representing the individual who is appointed by the court as the personal representative of the estate. In doing this my job is to make sure that the personal representative completes all the steps necessary in the probate process. Additionally, I make sure that when the probate is completed, we’ve done everything necessary to eliminate any liability that can rest with the personal representative.

One of the basic steps in a probate is to prepare an inventory of the estate. The inventory is nothing more than making a list of all the assets and debts that were owned or owed by the decedent on the day they passed away.

Specifically, Idaho Code § 15-3-706 is the statute that provides information about the personal representative’s duty to complete an inventory of the estate. This statute states specifically: “Within three (3) months after his appointment, a personal representative, except for a special administrator or a successor to another representative who has previously discharged this duty, shall prepare an inventory of property owned by the decedent at the time of his death, listing it with reasonable detail, and indicating as to each listed item, its fair market value as of the date of the decedent’s death, and the type and amount of any encumbrance that may exist with reference to any item.”

This may sound like a difficult job but it’s really not as bad as it sounds. Usually, we advise our clients to focus on five main categories when it comes to preparing an inventory of the estate. The first category is real estate. This would include any homes, bare ground, farm ground, or something similar.

The second category is vehicles. This would include any vehicle that has any type or kind of a title showing who the owner of the vehicle is. Keep in mind that this could include mobile homes, or it could include recreational vehicles such as ATVs, snowmobiles, or motorcycles.

The third category is bank accounts. This would be any checking or savings accounts or any CDs that the decedent had with any type of financial institution whether it was a bank or a credit union. This category would also include any type or kind of investment accounts that are not a retirement accounts such as 401ks, IRAs, HSAs, pensions and so forth.

The fourth category is the one that usually trips people up. This one is called household furnishings and personal effects. This category usually includes the personal property that you find inside of a home such as furniture, decorations, utensils, appliances, sporting goods, and so forth. The reason this one trips people up is because they believe they are required to count every nice fork and spoon. However, that is not really how it works. We typically advise our clients to simply go from room to room and to evaluate a garage-sale value for the items that are in that room. After that is done then they add up all the rooms and that gives them the total of all these items.

The fifth category is items of significant value. Essentially this includes items that you wouldn’t sell at a garage sale. This could include things such as jewelry, coin collections, guns or ammunition, other specialized equipment such as photography equipment or video equipment. It could also include items such as tools or any other specialized gear that is used by someone who has specialized skills or knowledge.

The last question in the title of this article is, do I need to file this inventory with the court. The Idaho statutes state specifically that “The personal representative shall send a copy of the inventory to interested persons who request it, and he may file the original of the inventory with the court.” See, Idaho Code § 15-3-706.

If you are a personal representative and you have questions about completing an inventory of the estate of the person you represent, we can help. We have assisted clients through the probate process for more than 70 years. We have the skill and experience necessary to answer your questions and to help you through the process. Please call us today for a free 30-minute consultation where we can answer your questions and help you.

ENLIST AN IDAHO ESTATE PLANNING ATTORNEY TO HELP YOU

If you have any questions about your estate or how to simplify your plans for your family and loved ones, we can help.  Call us toll free at 877-232-6101 or 208-232-6101 for a free consultation with Lane Erickson and the Racine Olson team of Estate Planning attorneys in Pocatello. You can also email Lane Erickson directly at lane@racineolson.com. We will answer your questions and will help you solve your Pocatello estate planning problems. I have helped numerous clients create their own customized estate plans and I’m confident that I can help you too.

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