Even with the most thorough inventory and accounting practices, it is still possible that an estate executor could not be aware of existing assets until after the probate process has been closed. What happens when estate assets are discovered after probate in Virginia? Here’s a general guide of what to do next.
Handling Estate Assets
One of the most critical and potentially problematic aspects of being an estate executor is handling estate assets. As the designated executor, it is your responsibility to locate, secure, establish the true value of and manage all estate assets. Some may have to be liquidated to cover estate expenses or other debts before a final distribution to beneficiaries.
An accurate listing of assets must be created and provided to the local area Commissioner of Accounts appointed by the circuit court. Upon request, they must also be provided to heirs or beneficiaries of the estate. Additionally, the executor must include a current listing of assets and asset activity (receipts, disbursements, distributions, etc.) in their yearly report until a final accounting is made and probate is closed.
Common estate assets in Virginia can include:
- Homes, vacation homes, other real estate
- Bank accounts
- Retirement accounts
- Insurance policies
- Valuable property/collectibles
- Personal belongings
An experienced Virginia Probate Attorney can be a valuable resource to help executors locate, secure and establish the value of estate assets. They often have tools and other resources that can uncover unknown or even forgotten assets after the decedent’s death.
When More Assets Turn Up
When additional assets turn up after probate has closed, the executor should consult with a probate attorney. Why? Depending on the type of asset and its value, there may be a way to handle things legally without the court, or a new probate file may need to be opened with the court to account for the new assets. Then, the executor must follow the same steps as previously carried out for securing, establishing value and distributing the new assets.
Depending on the number and value of the new assets, they can make an impact on previous estate matters. The estate could now owe more taxes, creditors may be able to make new claims against the estate and beneficiaries may be entitled to a share. Some wills may mention overlooked assets and provide instructions for how they are to be handled. Otherwise, the executor should seek the guidance of the probate court and an experienced Virginia Probate Attorney.
Commonly Overlooked Estate Assets
Some of the most commonly overlooked estate assets can include:
- Digital assets like photos and videos, emails, social media accounts, documents and more
- Loans to family or other private loans owed to the decedent
- Pets or other animals/livestock
- Stock certificates
- Pension plan documents
- Obscure valuable property
Sometimes these assets are not generally known, such as a private loan that was settled on a handshake. If no documentation exists, verifying the money owed to the estate can be difficult. Old stock certificates or property deeds have been unearthed years after a relative’s death, requiring a completely new probate process. Some old furniture or paintings can turn out to be quite valuable to collectors, and this was not realized during the initial probate proceedings.
Get Help from a Virginia Estate Attorney in Newport News
Contacting a Virginia Estate Attorney when you have been chosen to be an Estate Executor is a wise first step. They can help you understand your duties under the law and help you with often complex tasks, like locating estate assets. The many steps to administering an estate can take much time and Promise Law can help you prevent serious mistakes.
If you have been appointed as an estate executor in Virginia, contact Promise Law in Newport News for a complimentary consultation at 757.866.3730. We also invite you to watch our free Probate & Administration Workshop and learn how to avoid common errors and more.