One of the most important things that a personal representative must do early on within the management of the estate is to gather date of death value statements from financial institutions.
Creating a comprehensive inventory of all assets associated with the estate is strongly recommended to make sure that you have clarity on what assets belong in the estate. Remember that not every asset owned or managed by the person who passed away necessarily falls into a probate estate. For example, a life insurance policy or retirement accounts may pass directly to a beneficiary depending on the specifics of the policy.
If you are a California personal representative, may need to request copies of these policy by providing a copy of the death certificate, and your letters to administer the estate. You can then store all of this information in one place so that you can make informed decisions about how to handle these assets going forward. For example, you might choose to liquidate marketable assets such as stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds. Market risks could otherwise pose challenges to those assets. When it comes to evaluating what is known as step up and cost basis, you need to have accurate value as of the date of death, which is why you should request these details as soon as possible.
You may need to work directly with the deceased’s financial adviser to update these details on brokerage accounts, and be aware of any possible required minimum distributions. It can be very overwhelming to navigate this process on your own, but retaining an experienced lawyer to assist you with this process is recommended.
Reach out to our Pasadena offices for estate planning support.