Home Inventories Provide Many Benefits
When it comes to preparing a will or trust, or settling an estate after death, a home inventory can provide many benefits. As an estate planning attorney, I always encourage clients to make a separate list if there are particular items of their personal belongings that they wish to leave to specific family members or friends. I often suggest that clients go room by room and think about whether there are any items in the room that they would like to leave to a loved one.
A home inventory can list bequests
This is similar to the process one goes through when creating a home inventory. In fact, the inventory itself can list specific bequests and be attached as an addendum to the will or trust.
Also, sometimes I encounter clients who, after several decades of collecting or accumulating items in their homes, are not as familiar as they should be with the contents of their own home, garage, attic, etc. Preparing a home inventory can help an individual decide what items will be designated for specific individuals in a will or trust, and which items could instead be donated to charity or sold following one’s death. There are many stories of antiques that were sold at a fraction of their value at an estate sale simply because the surviving family members, or maybe even the deceased owner, forgot that the item existed or did not understand the item’s value. Having a home inventory can avoid this problem and potentially add more value to an estate.
An easier task for the Personal Representative
After an individual has passed away, the personal representative (PR) of the estate will be tasked with distributing the individual’s personal belongings to his or her beneficiaries as stated in a separate list or in the will itself. With a home inventory, this will be a much easier and more orderly process for the PR. The inventory will also allow the PR to know what is in the home and ensure that items are not improperly removed before they can be distributed. (Likewise, an inventory can help family members keep track of items that are placed in storage when a senior moves into a long term care facility.)
Settling an estate after a loved one’s death can sometimes be a chaotic, stressful experience. Having a home inventory, along with a properly drafted will or trust, can reduce the stress by providing the PR with a roadmap for valuing and distributing one’s personal property.
Sarah Heck, a native of Brownsburg, Indiana, attended Bowdoin College and the University of Maine School of Law. During her 17 years in practice, she has focused exclusively in the areas of estate planning, elder law, probate, and Social Security disability. She has offices in Brownsburg and Indianapolis. For more information, visit her website, Sara Heck, Attorney at Law, call (317) 858-1118 or email.