Occasionally, after someone dies, the family starts to question what their deceased relative really owned. Sometimes we hear statements from children or other relatives like:
"I thought Dad had more CDs at the bank."
"I thought Dad had another savings account."
"I thought Dad owned stock in some other companies."
"I thought Dad had an annuity and a life insurance policy."
Well, there is no central registry that you can go to and determine everything that someone owned when they died. But there are both informal and formal ways that you can dig and determine what someone owned on the date of their death.
There are a couple of obvious formal ways that you can try and discover additional assets. First, go back and look at the last few years of their tax returns. They would likely have received tax reporting statements from financial institutions that show that accounts were owned. Second, check their mail. If they owned financial accounts, it's likely they may received account statements in the mail.
And then there is the formal way to discover someone's assets after they died. Let's use an example of Dad, who died with a last will and testament. Dad names Son as executor. People are questioning the fact that Dad owned additional accounts. Once Son works with the lawyers and the court system to get confirmed as the executor, the courthouse will issue certified copies of Letters of Independent Executorship. Son can then go to every financial institution where he thinks Dad may have had an account, and the "Letters of Independent Executorship" require the third parties to disclose Dad's account information to Son, who is the independent executor.
So, there is no central registry one can go to and figure out what someone owned when they died, but there are both informal and formal ways to locate whether a deceased person owned additional accounts or other assets. Your estate planning and estate settlement attorney can help you get the proper court authority and make the right kinds of inquiries to expedite this process. And ideally, none of this is necessary if the deceased person would have, during his or her lifetime, maintained a current inventory of assets and communicated that inventory to the appropriate family members or other loved ones.
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Louisiana Estate Planning Attorney
Phone: (225) 329-2450