Depending on the size of the estate and the kinds of assets, finding assets can be a difficult and time-consuming process. Typically, an executor of an estate, creditor, beneficiary or heir may hire a New York probate and estate attorney to help them find the decedent’s assets. A New York probate and estate attorney can be helpful in compiling a list of estate assets because an attorney would know how to locate assets and generally works with a team of professionals such as investigators and asset skip tracers in finding assets that may be held or hidden outside the State of New York and even in another country.
One way an attorney finds financial assets is to issue an attorney subpoena for records of banks and other financial institutions to locate bank accounts, stock brokerage accounts and safe deposit boxes. An accountant or CPA can be hired to review income tax returns to make sure that the decedent’s assets are all accounted for and that there are no hidden assets. An attorney would review the decedent’s will to look for further clues as to the location of assets. An attorney would also conduct a property title search to locate any real estate held in the decedent’s name by searching county records in and outside the State of New York.
We would also run a UCC search, which would provide the following information:
• Debtor’s name and address
• Secured Party’s name and address
• List of secured collateral
• State where UCC was filed, date filed and document number
An executor of a New York estate is responsible for locating the decedent’s assets, paying the decedent’s debts and estate taxes out of the assets and distributing the remaining assets to the decedent’s heirs and beneficiaries. While a decedent may list some assets in a will or trust, there may be other assets that are hidden or that the decedent may have acquired after making a will or trust which may not have been disposed of at the time of the decedent’s death that must be located.
Creditors in a New York estate may also need to locate a decedent’s assets to collect a debt. Even if a creditor has a valid legal claim, they may not be able to collect the debt if the estate does not have sufficient assets to pay the debt. Also, creditors should keep in mind that some assets are exempt from creditors or judgments such as assets placed in an irrevocable trust or life insurance policies. A decedent’s heirs or beneficiaries may also be interested in locating the decedent’s assets in connection with a will contest.
NYC probate and estate attorneys represent executors, heirs, beneficiaries, creditors and other interested parties to a New York decedent’s estate in connection with the location of assets of the estate and other estate matters. If you wish to speak to a New York estate attorney, call the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin at (212) 233-1233.