In a recent post, this blog discussed the inventory, an important document that is filed at the outset of the administration of an estate. The inventory of an estate gives the family and other heirs their first clear indication of what assets are in an estate and what the relative value of those assets, such as real estate, stocks, and bank accounts are.
Although the inventory might not capture every piece of property that a Minnesota resident owned before he or she died, it should list everything that the person owned and that will pass through the estate. It should also correctly list all debts.
A family member who receives a copy of the inventory may get clued in for the first time that something is amiss with the estate. For example, assets that should be listed on the inventory could mysteriously be missing or described obliquely. Moreover, a person might notice that the estate has been substantially undervalued in that the numbers listed just do not reconcile with reasonable estimates of what a piece of property is worth.
While these errors and omissions could be innocent enough, they also could be a warning sign that the personal representative is, at best, exhibiting a pattern of carelessness and, at worst, is not handling the estate in a fair and impartial manner.
Perhaps the best thing for a Minnesota resident who has concerns about an estate valuation or other inventory issues to do is consult with an attorney experienced with contested probate matters. In this respect, our law office, in addition to having experience with litigation, also has experience reading and interpreting estate inventories. We can help a concerned member spot potential problems and, if necessary, work toward a solution. Our website has more information about these kinds of legal issues and how we approach them.