Duties of a Personal Representative: Estate Inventory
Under Minnesota law, personal representatives are required to take an inventory of the assets in the decedent’s estate. However, before taking the inventory, the personal representative must request, and accept, appointment by the court. The personal representative cannot begin the inventory process without first being appointed by the court.
What is Included in the Inventory?
The inventory is a listing of probate assets that the decedent owned at the time of their death. These probate assets include, but not limited to:
Stocks and common bonds
Derivatives and futures
Banknotes and bank bonds
Contracts for deed
Non-probate assets are not included in the inventory. If you are unsure if you should include an estate asset or need some assistance with estate planning, make sure to talk to an experienced attorney. Non-probate assets include:
Property that is held in joint tenancy with right of survivorship
Bank accounts held in joint tenancy, or, having payable on death (POD) or transfer on death beneficiaries (TOD)
Property held in trust
Life insurance that has a named beneficiary
Retirement accounts with a named beneficiary
The inventory also requires a listing of the decedent’s debts at the time of his death. These debts include mortgages, liens, unpaid taxes, and the like.
The Inventory Form
Once the personal representative categorizes the assets, the inventory is served on the residuary beneficiaries and filed with the probate court. The inventory form shows the assets and liabilities of the decedent's probate estate.
How are assets appraised for the Inventory?
The personal representative must show the fair market value of the assets listed. The fair market value is determined as of the date of the decedent’s death, not the date the personal representative is assembling the inventory. Typically, the personal representative does not need to hire an appraiser to determine the value of the decedent’s assets. However, if the personal representative lacks experience, or does not think they are qualified to appraise assets, they should consult professionals. Personal representatives should seek the advice of an attorney to understand how the inventory establishes the basis for taxes on the estate.
When must the form be filed?
There is a specific timeline in which the inventory must be prepared. The inventory must be served on the residuary beneficiaries six months after the appointment of the personal representative, or, nine months after the decedent’s death, whichever later occurs.
Who else is entitled to a copy of the inventory?
The inventory, in addition to be filed with the court and served on residuary beneficiaries, must also be provided to certain persons. If the decedent has a surviving spouse, the personal representative must provide them with a copy of the inventory. The personal representative must provide a copy to any creditors of the estate. Further, any interested parties that request a copy must be provided with an inventory of the estate. To close the estate the personal representative must certify that they provided these parties with a copy of the inventory.
Other Considerations for the Personal Representative
Being a personal representative is a fiduciary duty that requires certain skills and responsibilities. Our attorneys work with the personal representative throughout the probate process to help manage these duties and ensure a successful administration of the estate.