Are you an attorney who is advising an executor or personal representative of an estate? In some cases, the deceased’s estate may have significant liabilities together with undisclosed assets. It is estimated that 73% of Americans will die in debt. To fulfill your due diligence to your client you can conduct a quick asset search to determine the assets and liabilities of the decedent.

There are many types of liabilities which could fall upon the heirs of the estate to repay. In conducting an asset search you can search for all types of assets and liabilities, including real estate, deed transfers, limited partnerships, property such as cars, boats and aircraft, judgments, federal and state tax liens, trusts and secured or unsecured loans.

In Massachusetts and a number of other states, there is a limited time after which the deceased’s estate usually does not have to pay back debts. Sometimes creditors can go after the deceased’s estate even after the one-year time period has passed. In Massachusetts there is no requirement to post a notice to creditors. This makes it more likely that creditors may surface unexpectedly with claims on the deceased’s estate.

The executive (personal representative) or administrator of the estate has a fiduciary responsibility to the beneficiaries of the estate to make decisions that are in the estate’s best interests. The deceased’s relatives are usually not responsible for paying for debts. However, in some cases the deceased’s spouse could be responsible for paying some debts like medical debts or any loans any relative has cosigned with the deceased.

In addition, if some liabilities and debts are not paid in a timely manner it can affect the value of the estate for beneficiaries. Some debts like property or real estate taxes can affect the value of the estate by putting the ownership of the asset in jeopardy. An asset search can help uncover all the decedent’s property and real estate holdings so that any responsibilities are taken care of.

Even if no debt is passed on to the deceased’s relatives, getting a picture of the total value of the estate by investigating all assets and liabilities is part of the duty of the Executor or administrator. Understanding what debts need to be paid and planning to discharge them could also save the deceased’s relatives unnecessary pain and distress. The executor can ensure that grieving relatives do not get calls from debt collection agencies. The executor or personal representative can do this by deciding to pay the creditors and contacting the creditors and debt collectors to ask them not to phone the relatives.

If you are an attorney advising the personal representative of an estate, you can help your client to do their duty by recommending a quick and affordable asset search. An asset search can turn around in 1-3 days and can reveal the total assets and liabilities a person held during their lifetime. This can cost as little as $185 dollars. A quick asset search frees up an estate by identifying debts and liabilities so the correct distributions can be made to beneficiaries and the estate does not lose the value of assets due to unpaid bills and property tax. For more information call us at 1 800 290-1012 ext 111.