Completing a Probate Inventory

If you are appointed the executor or administrator of someone’s estate in Massachusetts, you will be required to complete and file with the court an Inventory.  An Inventory is a form that the court will send you after you have been appointed, usually with the decree and certificate which shows that you are the executor.

The purpose of the Inventory is to put the other heirs and creditors on notice about what is in the estate of the deceased person and what its value is.  In most cases, the executor/administrator must file the Inventory within 3 months of appointment.

You are required to list on the Inventory everything that is in the decedent’s probate estate – things like bank accounts in the decedent’s name only, personal items, cars, real estate located in Massachusetts.  Jointly owned property or property that is passing to a named beneficiary is not listed on the Inventory.

Property should be listed with sufficient detail so that it is clear what has come into the hands of the executor. For example, financial accounts should be listed with the account number and name of institution, real estate should be listed with a brief description of the property including the book and page number. Personal property (household goods, clothing, etc) is usually listed as one lump sum unless there are antiques or art work that have been appraised, then they should be listed separately. Vehicles can be listed with the Vehicle Identification Number.

The Inventory is the starting point for the Accounting that must be filed periodically and at the close of the estate, so the more detailed and complete the Inventory is, the easier it will be to complete the Accountings.

Accurate record keeping is an important part of the job of executor or administrator.  If you are the executor or administrator of an estate and you need assistance completing and filing the Inventory, you should seek the guidance of the attorney assisting you in your role.

Estate Planning, Probate and Trusts involve complex areas of law. Individual circumstances must be considered before any advice can be given.  The general information above is not to be construed as legal advice, which can only be given after consideration of the unique facts of each matter. Please seek the advice or counsel of your attorney, financial advisor or CPA as it may be appropriate.

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