Selling Assets of the Estate
Selling the estate’s assets is an essential duty of the Personal Representative. The proceeds of the sale will pay debts and provide distributions to the heirs. Locating all of the property of the decedent (i.e., houses, vehicles, jewelry, stocks, bonds, bank accounts, etc.) and having said property timely appraised will determine the value of the estate. Property cannot be sold until the Probate Referee has determined its value.
To efficiently administer the estate many personal representatives choose to retain a probate attorney on behalf of the estate. To learn more about ensuring the smooth administration of your loved ones estate call Sacramento Law Group at (916) 596-1018.
The value of the estate at the date of death will determine whether or not a Probate case will need to be opened. If the value is less than $150,000 a Probate case may not be necessary, but you should consult with an attorney to determine if a Probate case is needed and determine what property should be included. It is important to bring all information about the decedent and include all of their assets, titles, liens, debts, any and all account statements.
If a Probate case is opened and the Court determines that a Probate Referee is required, a Probate Referee will be appointed by the Court in the Order for Probate. The Probate Referee must be aware of all the decedent’s property and assets so they can determine a value. Providing the Probate Referee with a list of all assets (i.e., bank statements, mortgages, retirement accounts, etc.) will help them determine the “date of death value” of the estate. This information should all be provided along with a completed Inventory and Appraisal form. One attachment on the Inventory and Appraisal will be completed by the Probate Referee and include all real property, business share holdings, jewelry, vehicles, annuities and insurance policies.
Once the Inventory and Appraisal has been completed, served on all interested parties, and filed with the Court, the property can be sold if all beneficiaries and/or heirs agree to the sale. One of the heirs can chose to not sell the property and acquire it from the estate by “buying out” the other heirs who would have received a portion of the distribution from the sale of that property. However, if there is not enough money in the estate to pay the estate’s debts without selling the property, the property will need to be sold, as there has to be enough cash to pay attorney fees, creditor claims, taxes and any wishes that the decedent identified in their Will.
Value Of The Estate
It is important to have a value of the estate at the time of death as many forms of property depreciate. The valuation determined by the Probate Referee will govern the amount that each beneficiary will receive. The sooner the property has a set value and is sold, the higher the value of the estate. Having a higher estate value will provide more money to pay debts, taxes, attorney fees and make distributions to beneficiaries of the estate.