How to find a deceased person's assets

It isn't always a straightforward process to find a deceased person's assets. In some cases, items are found well after an estate has been formally settled. However, there are tools that people can use to locate them. For instance, the county where the individual lived may have a deed or other information about any real estate that he or she owned. In addition, it may be possible to glean quality clues about assets from tax return documents.

For example, a person who received interest from a bank or other financial institution likely has an account there. If income from other assets is listed in a return, it may be possible to find the source of that income as well. In the event that these efforts don't yield positive results, it may be necessary to go through the decedent's home.

Doing so may make it possible to find papers or other documents that indicate what he or she owned. It may also be possible to write letters to a bank or other company that an individual may have had a relationship with. Of course, a lot of this can be avoided by advising a loved one to be as organized and transparent as possible while he or she is still alive.

Part of estate planning is making sure that a person organizes key documents while still alive to do so. Taking this step may make it easier for a personal representative to find them and settle the estate in a timely manner. It may also make it possible for the representative to carry out a person's last wishes as quickly as possible.

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