How do I locate an estate’s assets?

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How Do I Locate An Estates Assets

After a family member or loved one passes away, you may be appointed the executor of their estate. As an executor of an estate in New Jersey, you have many responsibilities. One of your first and most important tasks is locating the estate’s assets, so they can be distributed to heirs or creditors.

Check the will first

If your loved one had a will, this is the first place you should look for an asset list. Review the will thoroughly and consult with an estate administration attorney if you have any questions on the terms of the will.

However, if the will was drafted long ago and hasn’t been updated recently, there may be missing assets or assets that were since sold or given away. Try to locate and review any financial statements or legal documents, which could provide updated asset information.

Additionally, check to see if your loved one had a safety deposit box and check the contents. Speak with any financial, legal or tax professionals they may have used, as well as insurance agents for any insurance policies they held.

What if there is no will?

Locating assets becomes more difficult when there is no will. You can go to your local probate court and ask them to perform an asset search. Be aware that the results may not be complete or accurate; however, they will at least give you a general idea of what’s out there.

There are services available that will conduct public record checks. There is typically a fee involved with these services, so it may be best to only use these as a last resort if you feel there are uncovered assets that you cannot locate through any other means.

Locating assets is just one step in the estate administration process. Understanding and accurately performing all required steps can be overwhelming while you are dealing with the loss of a loved one. Experienced legal counsel can guide you through the process, so you can focus on healing and moving forward.


Michael Ritigstein is a Founding Partner of the firm concentrating his efforts in supporting the firm's litigation, corporate and estate matters. Mr. Ritigstein graduated from the University of Delaware in 1996 and Seton Hall University School of Law in 2000. In 2007 he received a Masters of Law in Taxation with a concentration in Estate Planning, from Temple University's Beasley School of Law.

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