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Probate and Estate Litigation Blog

Estate valuation of household property

Being an executor of an estate in Minnesota carries numerous responsibilities which, if not properly performed, can lead to court battles among heirs, family members and creditors. Estate valuation of household property is one of these important responsibilities.

Every asset owned by the decedent upon death now falls under the executor's care. Executors must evaluate all the property found in the decedent's home and assure that it goes where it was designated in the will.

An inventory of all the personal and household items must be prepared for the probate inventory and a federal tax document. Property belonging to the surviving spouse should not be included in this inventory.

It is important to separate valuable and inexpensive items. Furniture, dishes, curios and other items may not appeal to most tastes, but may still be valuable. An antiques dealer may provide guidance on the true value of these items.

Personal and household items may stay after the decedent's death for a surviving spouse except those that the decedent specifically left by will to others. When the decedent has no surviving spouse and the house must be taken apart, the executor should list and document all the items and set aside anything valuable for later valuation.

Relatives and friends should not be allowed to rummage through the residence until all items were listed and any expensive items were valued. Collecting housing keys and changing the locks as soon as possible is recommended. Any item that was taken by a relative should be retrieved or charged against any share that the relative has from the estate.

Finally, it is important to have confirmation of what was in the house when the executor first arrived. The executor should bring witnesses when inventory is performed and the contents of the house are disposed. Numerous videos and pictures should be taken of each room.

Failing to take these types of prudent steps and properly determining the value of estate can lead to probate litigation or tax difficulties. Families and executors should seek legal assistance to assure that this done properly or to assist them if the matter goes to litigation.

Source: Dummies.com, "How to list a decedent's household property," Accessed May 1, 2017

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