In a probate case, one of the primary responsibilities of the personal representative is to collect, maintain and manage the assets of the estate. This includes filing with the probate court an inventory of the estate’s assets. Here are three things every personal representative should know about preparing the inventory in a probate case:
- What is probate property? Not all assets of the deceased are subject to jurisdiction of the probate court. Only assets owned in the deceased’s name alone go through probate. Consequently, joint tenancy property, bank accounts with payable-on-death beneficiaries designated and property owned by a revocable living trust need not be included in the inventory filed with the probate court.
- An inventory is not always required. The Oklahoma probate laws allow the court to waive the filing of an inventory. The personal representative can request an order waiving the filing of an inventory in either the initial petition or a subsequent application.
- Valuation is important. In addition to listing the assets of the probate estate, the personal representative must assign values to such assets. While the personal representative can simply state his or her opinion as to the value of the estate’s assets, it often makes sense to hire professional appraisers, particularly for the deceased’s primary residence and any oil and gas rights.
As with other probate issues, a personal representative would be best served by retaining a knowledgeable attorney. Doing so can ensure that the personal representative fulfills their statutory duties, avoids legal liability and minimizes disputes among family members.