If you are the executor for the estate of someone who has recently died, and you have never fulfilled the position of executor before, you may be overwhelmed with the duties that come along with the job. One of the first things you must do is to inventory the decedent’s estate for the purpose of the probate process. This requires you to list all of the decedent’s assets from valuable real property down to seemingly worthless personal possessions. Be careful, however, that you don’t miss a treasure among what appears to be trash.
Such was the case in the estate of John Hessian of Boston. After his death, a cleaning crew was hired to go through his boxes of “junk.” Among those boxes was one full of old baseball cards, some of which dated back to the 40s. Thankfully, someone among the cleaning crew knew what he was looking at and the box was not thrown away. It turned out that the collection was worth over $1 million!
If the decedent was a pack rat, you may be tempted to simply hire someone to come in and haul everything away, but as you can see by what happened in the Hessian estate, that could be a huge mistake. Take the time to go through everything yourself. Better yet, hire a professional estate appraiser to come in and provide an appraisal for all of the decedent’s personal property. That way you can be reasonably sure that you haven’t missed a treasure.
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