A relative has passed away and you’re having trouble locating all of their assets. What do you do? As estate planning and probate attorney Sarah Siedentopf explains, there’s going to be some detective work involved.
Hi, I’m attorney Sarah Siedentopf. I’m an estate planning and probate attorney in Atlanta, Georgia. A question that I get asked a lot is, “How do I find out where my father, mother, whatever relative, had their assets?” I think when people come to me, they’re hoping that my answer is going to be “Oh, there’s a secret court registry” or something I can look up online as an attorney and that somewhere there is a list of everything that a decedent owned and all we have to know is exactly where that list is.
Unfortunately, the reality is that it’s detective work. Checking the mail, logging into email if you have access to that, figuring out where did Dad bank. Okay, I know he had a relationship with SunTrust, I go to SunTrust, we get those bank accounts, we see where payments are going out to life insurance or something like that. It’s a very boring, basic, difficult tracking down. Of course, with fewer things coming in the mail, so much of this is online these days. All of this is a very unwelcome answer really to anyone but especially to anyone who’s not living in town with the person who’s passed away or doesn’t have easy access to the house, especially children of a first marriage who are wondering, what’s going on and maybe the surviving spouse is not that friendly, doesn’t want to share, and they’re hoping to find out what Dad owned.
But, generally speaking, the only way you can find this out is through old-school detective work, tracking it down. So, there is no secret court registry where we can look up everything, all of the life insurance, all of the 401ks. It’s all detective work. If you’ve got more questions about this, please give me a call. Thanks.
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