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How to uncover a testator’s hidden assets as an Illinois executor

On Behalf of | Feb 9, 2022 | Divorce |

Illinois executors have many responsibilities, including taking inventory of a testator’s assets. This accounting of a decedent’s assets aids an executor in preparing a decedent’s final tax return and dividing the testator’s assets among their heirs. 

While many testators adequately prepare their executors by informing them of their assets and where to locate them, other estate administrators are not fortunate enough to receive such advance guidance. If you’re an executor in this predicament, then there are some strategies that you can employ to uncover a testator’s hidden assets.

Which assets do testators often leave out of their estate plan?

Testators seldom forget to make plans for what they want to happen with their house, car, or family heirlooms. However, there are other assets that they may unintentionally leave out of their plans. Some examples include life insurance policies and investment portfolios. Intangible assets like these are not used on a regular basis and can therefore be missed when drawing up estate plans. 

Circumstances when executors may uncover a testator’s hidden assets

Illinois judges generally order an executor to inventory a decedent’s estate early on in the probate case. An executor often only needs to track down and preserve a testator’s assets as contained in their will, such as their car or home.

In other situations, an executor may encounter unfamiliar assets, like intellectual property rights, a land deed, or a stash of cash. This discovery may trigger a search for additional unknown assets that were not disclosed in the decedent’s will. In addition to the decedent’s home, an executioner should also check storage units, safety deposit boxes, and offices.

There are also instances in which executors learn about a decedent’s assets after receiving a mail or correspondence on their behalf. They may also learn of assets by combing through financial statements or performing property tax record searches. These inquiries may reveal that a testator prepaid funeral expenses, owned rental properties, or received royalties.

Conducting a thorough inventory is your responsibility as an executor

One of your responsibilities as an Illinois executor is to conduct a comprehensive inventory of a testator’s assets. A probate judge will not allow the probate process to move forward unless they’re sure that you’ve left no stone unturned in identifying a testator’s assets. Neglecting to search for all assets thoroughly will delay the process much longer than necessary.