Filing a Probate Inventory

Paralegal Resource
July 26, 2012 — 971 views  
Become a Bronze Member for monthly eNewsletter, articles, and white papers.

Many people are familiar with a scenario where a person has died and left his or her estate to a family member or loved one. However, just as many people have never experienced this circumstance firsthand. For this reason, many individuals are unaware of the legal processes surrounding the settlement of an estate after a person's death, a legal process referred to as probate.

Probate is necessary when a person owns personal property that is in his or her name alone, or owns property as a "tenant in common" with someone else. This process requires a petition to be filed with the court and a personal representative to be named in a will or determined by the court.

According to the Minnesota Judicial Branch, this personal representative will be responsible for a variety of tasks during the probate. These include the collection of inventories and appraisal of the person's assets, protection of the estate, payment of the person's debts and distribution of the remaining assets to the lawful parties for whom they are intended.

A probate is also necessary if the deceased person does not have real property, but has other property totaling $20,000 or more. If the personal property owned in his or her name alone is valued at less than $20,000, a probate is unnecessary. Even if a person leaves a will, a probate may be required.

EstateFinance.com explains that if a will is present, it must first be verified as valid, and if no will exists, state law governs who receives the assets of the person. The probate process and distribution of the assets to the proper entities, as suggested by the will or by law, can take anywhere from six months to two years.

A probate court will oversee the process and will often be responsible for inventorying the property and classifying assets. Assets are a key component of a probate estate, so preparing and filing of the probate inventory by paralegals is essential for successful administration. Paralegals must understand all aspects of handling the estate's assets, including filing the inventory, as failing to properly file during estate accounting can result in state and federal tax consequences.

The Institute for Paralegal Education states that some of the fundamentals of completing a successful probate estate inventory include preparing the Inventory and Appraisal form with the court and determining if there is any supplemental or corrective inventory that needs to be filed. All of these necessary documents should be filed with the court, in addition to filing an estate tax return if necessary and filing the necessary income taxes.

Paralegal Resource