topic | inventory and appraise assets

Step 1: identify and locate estate assets

Identify and locate estate assets. Investments, Liquid Assets, Other Assets, Vehicles, and Personal Property may already contain helpful information.  If not, use them as a guide.

Identifying and locating assets may be challenging. Begin looking for valuables in obvious places such as a safe deposit box or a rented storage unit. Search less obvious places including under a mattress, in old shoeboxes, the freezer, or a cookie jar. Check for bills, old tax returns, and statements. Locate checkbooks and credit card statements. Stocks and bond certificates, insurance policies, and even bank statements can be found in unusual places!

Best Practices

Many people store and access their account information online through password-protected sites. Personal Items may contain password information. If passwords for the deceased are unknown, many software packages offer the ability to unlock and reset existing passwords. A web search for "password recovery" will lead to software packages including Many of these password tools may be used free of charge. Check with a spouse, friends, or relatives as they may have information on how to access accounts.

Most people aren't aware of accounts and insurance policies of the deceased. Don't assume that records are complete. There are fee-based sites, such as that have the ability to contact over 400 institutions on your behalf, including Life Insurers and Banks.

One person should never sort through personal property or assets alone. Enlist the help of another family member or heir. This limits the liability of a single person sorting through valuables and creates accountability.

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