Step 6: Collection of assets
As the estate administrator, one of your most important responsibilities is to collect all of the eligible probate assets of the deceased; which may include personal property, vehicles, bank accounts with no beneficiaries, etc. Items that may not be included as probate assets include estate property, retirement accounts (IRA, 401k) that already have beneficiaries designated, property contained in a living trust, and funds/securities that are in pay-on-death accounts (POD) or transfer-upon-death accounts (TOD). If a beneficiary has pre-deceased the bank account holder, these items may be included in the probate case with the Court’s approval.
If the title (ownership) of an asset held by the deceased is required to be changed into someone else’s name, the Administrator must make these arrangements. Usually, to process a transfer of title, a death certificate must be presented.
The types of assets that may require a legal title change include, but are not limited to, stocks and bonds, bank and credit card accounts, brokerage accounts, and mutual funds.
Additionally, physical assets, ranging from the deceased’s primary residence, condos, vacation homes, motor vehicles, boats, aircraft, motorhomes, etc., will probably require the title to be transferred. Any transfer of property must be available for public review.
California form DE-160, Inventory and Appraisal, must be filed with the Court by the Administrator (personal representative). This form is your personal declaration that the items specified in the form are each and every asset in the decedent’s estate.