Identifying and Locating Assets: When administering an estate, it is crucial to identify and locate all the assets owned by the deceased person. An asset search helps the probate attorney uncover any assets that may not be immediately apparent or known to the beneficiaries. It allows them to create a comprehensive inventory of the estate, ensuring that nothing is overlooked.

  1. Determining Estate Value: An asset search helps the probate attorney determine the value of the estate accurately. By discovering all the assets owned by the deceased, including real estate, vehicles, and other personal property, the attorney can calculate the total value of the estate. This information is essential for estate tax purposes and the equitable distribution of assets among beneficiaries.
  2. Uncovering Hidden or Unknown Assets: In some cases, individuals may intentionally or unintentionally hide assets or fail to disclose them in their estate planning documents. An asset search can reveal any hidden or unknown assets that may exist, such as offshore bank accounts, undisclosed properties, or valuable collections. This information ensures that the probate process is fair and transparent for all parties involved.
  3. Resolving Debts and Liabilities: Probate attorneys need to identify all the debts and liabilities of the deceased to ensure they are appropriately addressed during the probate process. An asset search helps locate outstanding debts, such as mortgages, or legal judgments against the deceased. By uncovering these liabilities, the attorney can allocate the necessary funds from the estate to settle them.
  4. Protecting the Executor from Liability: Executors have a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the estate and its beneficiaries. Conducting an asset search helps the probate attorney ensure that the executor fulfills their responsibilities appropriately. By identifying all the assets and liabilities, the attorney can help prevent potential claims of negligence or mismanagement against the executor.

In summary, an asset search provides probate attorneys and executors or personal representatives with crucial information to effectively administer an estate. It helps them identify and locate assets, determine the estate value, uncover hidden or unknown assets, resolve debts and liabilities, and protect the executor from liability. By utilizing this valuable tool, probate attorneys can ensure a smooth and fair probate process for all parties involved.