As the executor of an estate, it is important to identify all of the assets and liabilities of the deceased, and determine the values as of the date of death. So, the obvious question is, what stuff did the person own, and what are the debts? Every estate is different, so generating this list can be very easy, but other times it can take months to prepare. And, if you’re applying for probate, these items will need to be described in a way that satisfies the Probate Registrar.
How detailed does the list have to be? For bequests (ie. items being given directly to a beneficiary), I always suggest having a separate value for each item. For anything of particular value (eg. house, car, GIC’s, jewelery, etc), again, have a separate value for each item. Clothes and personal possessions can usually be combined, separating out anything with extraordinary value. What about the dozens of figurines in the china cabinet? If they’re going to be sold as a group, then describe them on one line with one value, but if they have no particular value, then you might want to include them in ‘Household furniture and ornaments’ (or however you wish to describe this group of items). If something has no value, and is going to be given away or thrown away, then don’t bother itemizing it. All financial assets should be separated (eg. GIC’s, bonds, stocks, RRIF’s, bank accounts, etc).
Here are a few things that can easily be overlooked. The CPP Death Benefit needs to be included, as do the final pension cheques, even if they haven’t arrived as of the date of death. The damage deposit for the rented apartment is an asset, as is the apartment rental fee for the remainder of the month.
Now the liabilities. I would suggest being very detailed and complete so that you can use this as a checklist. That way nothing will be forgotten. Have a separate line item for each and every creditor (eg. telephone, electricity, mortgage, line of credit, car loan, MasterCard, VISA, property taxes, etc). Don’t forget any interest that may have accrued between the date of the last statement and the date of death.
Later, you’ll likely sell the assets and pay off the debts, so here’s a question: When you sell an asset, have you earned income? And when you pay off an existing debt, have you incurred an expense? (OK, that’s 2 questions)
Thanks for reading…