Assets of an estate include everything that the decedent owned either jointly or in the decedent’s own name at the time of the decedent’s death including personal and real property. The executor or administrator must compile a list of all the estate assets searching any place that the personal representative believes the assets may be located. Family members may be helpful in the search.
Where to Look?
The following are places to look for the decedent’s estate assets:
• Safe deposit box
• Tax returns
• Bank and other financial institution accounts
• Cancelled checks
• Credit card receipts and bills
• Stock and bond certificates
• Insurance policies. You can use The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) system to find a list of companies that may have written an insurance policy on behalf of the decedent if there are no premium bills or cancelled receipts in the decedent’s records.
• File cabinets, closets, desk drawers and under the bed
• New York State Comptroller unclaimed property registry
To find hidden assets, it may be necessary to hire a professional asset search company or private investigative agency, especially if the estate is large and there were assets owned in other states or countries. It is also a good idea to contact the decedent’s financial advisors and attorney who drafted the decedent’s will and/or trust. The estate may also find it necessary to hire a Long Island probate and estate attorney to assist with locating estate assets as well.
Once the assets have been compiled, the personal representative will be able to determine the value of the estate assets and make decisions as to whether any assets will need to be sold to pay off creditors. The personal representative must keep an accurate accounting of estate assets that are bought and sold to present to the Nassau County or Suffolk County Surrogate’s Court and beneficiaries. While it is the personal representative’s final decision as to which assets should be sold or kept and which claims should be paid or denied, the representative may want to discuss these matters with the beneficiaries to avoid any disputes or accounting challenges down the road that may delay the winding up and closing of the estate.
Besides the personal representative of a Long Island estate, creditors, a business partner or other beneficiaries or heirs may be interested in locating the decedent’s assets to collect a debt or to contest the decedent’s will. Certain assets are exempt from liens and judgments such as life insurance policies and assets placed in an irrevocable trust for the benefit of the decedent’s beneficiaries.
If you are a personal representative, beneficiary, creditor or other interested party to a Long Island estate and need to locate a decedent’s assets, call the Law Offices of Albert Gurevich at (516) 777-0647 and speak to a Long Island estate attorney.