Probate can be a lengthy process that culminates in the distribution of assets to the beneficiaries and/or heirs of the estate. Before assets can be distributed, however, those assets must be identified, secured, and valued. All that is part of completing a probate inventory. If you are the Executor or Personal Representative of an estate, one of your responsibilities will be to inventory the estate assets at the beginning and end of the probate process. To help you better understand, the Grand Forks attorneys at German Law explain how to do a probate inventory in North Dakota.
What Is Probate?
When someone passes away, they leave behind an estate that is made up of all the assets owned by the decedent. If the decedent died intestate (without a Will or trust), those assets will eventually be distributed to the legal heirs using the North Dakota intestate succession rules. If the decedent left behind a Will or trust, the terms of that document will dictate how probate assets are distributed to beneficiaries at the end of the probate process. Probate is the term used for the legal process that makes sure all estate assets are accounted for, creditors are paid, and beneficiaries and/or heirs receive the assets to which they are entitled.
The Role of Executor/Personal Representative
If the decedent left behind a valid Last Will and Testament, the person named as the Executor in that Will is responsible for overseeing the probate of the estate. If the decedent died intestate, someone must be named as the Personal Representative (PR) of the estate by the court. For the most part, the roles have the same duties and responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is to identify and secure all estate assets as soon after the death of the decedent as possible.
Tips for Completing a Probate Inventory in North Dakota
If you find yourself appointed to be the Executor or PR of an estate in North Dakota that is involved in formal probate, one of the first things you need to do is to determine what assets will be involved in the probate of the estate because not all assets are required to go through probate. Once you have identified and secured all probate assets, you need to establish a date of death value for each asset in order to fulfill your duties as Executor/PR.
North Dakota Century Code Section 30.1-18-06 requires you to file an inventory within six months after being appointed or nine months after the death of the decedent, whichever is later. That inventory must list all probate assets “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.”
To determine date of death (DOD) values for some assets you may need to retain the services of a professional. For example, you may need a real estate appraiser to provide a DOD value for real property or an art appraiser to establish a DOD value for the decedent’s art collection. It is important to keep in mind that the relevant value is the value on the date of death, not the value of the asset today.
Once you have completed an initial inventory, you should file it with the court and provide a copy to each heir or beneficiary listed in the decedent’s Will. At the end of the probate process, you should also create another list showing what happened to each asset listed on your starting inventory.
Do You Need Help with a Probate Inventory in North Dakota?
- Why a Pre-Paid Funeral Contract Might Not Be the Best Option - December 7, 2023
- The SECURE Act – the Gift That Keeps On Giving - December 5, 2023
- How Does My Age at Retirement Impact My Social Security Benefits? - November 30, 2023