Distribution of assets of the deceased, which become part of his/her estate on the date of his/her death, is a crucial legal step. Successors become owners only after assets are lawfully transferred.
The task of distribution is assigned to duly appointed Executor/Administrator of the deceased. Such appointment is done by legal heirs by entering into unanimous agreement, OR by entry of Court Order.
Process of collecting assets, paying outstanding debts, and distributing net assets begins only after an individual or entity is duly appointed as Executor/Administrator.
The transfer process as well as powers, limitations, and accountability of Executor/Administrator are prescribed by statutory laws, which provide built-in protections to legal heirs to monitor the process and compliance with laws.
Fiduciary Role of an Executor/Administrator
Executor of valid and duly executed “Will” OR Administrator of the Estate of the Deceased, both have fiduciary duty towards the deceased as well as legal heirs.
It is a Duty of Loyalty and Duty of Care.
Duty of loyalty is acting for benefit of and in the best interest of legal heirs of the deceased.
Duty of Care is complying with applicable laws in distribution of assets of the deceased and rendering full and accurate accounting of all financial activities of the estate of the deceased undertaken by executor/administrator to all legal heirs for their review and approval.
This fiduciary duty entitles legal heirs to take civil and/or criminal action against executor/administrator for committing any breach of assigned duties.
It is helpful to maintain checklist/spreadsheet of all information and documents, prepare inventory, and log all financial activities conducted on behalf of the deceased.
Executor/Administrator is required by law to render full and accurate accounting of all actions taken or to be taken by him/her on behalf of the deceased to all legal heirs.
Legal heirs have a right to review all activities conducted on behalf of the deceased.
To begin, executor/administrator must contact all sources and collect supporting information and documentary evidence of assets and outstanding debts of the deceased.
The sources include family members, employers, service providers, professionals (lawyers, accountants, financial consultants, etc.), bankers, pension authorities, utility companies, municipal authorities, etc.
Assistance from legal professional having expertise in property transfer must be obtained and all applicable laws must be complied with.
Assets may consist of cash in hand, bank accounts, fixed deposits, investment accounts, Real Property (house, bldg., floor, apt., land), vehicles, jewelry, precious metals, business interests, shares, stocks, and bonds, etc. All assets must be accounted for.
Outstanding debts of the diseased may include personal loans, credit card debts, medical bills, utility bills, outstanding taxes, medical bills, funeral bills, etc.
A. Personal Data of Deceased:
S. No. Particulars Responses
a. Full Legal Name
b. Any Other name used
c. Date of Birth
d. Place of Birth
e. Date of Death
f. Residential address at the time of death
g. Aadhar Card Number
h. Pan card Number
i. Marital Status at the time of Death
j. Number of surviving Children
k. Number of Deceased Children
l. Did Deceased leave behind any Will/codicil/Trust?
B. Family Data of Deceased:
S.No. Relationship Name, address, tel. &
i.. Surviving Spouse
ii. Surviving Child 1
iii. Surviving Child 2
iv. Surviving Child 3
v. Deceased Child 1
vi. Legal heirs of Deceased
C. Data regarding Professionals Assisting Deceased:
Professionals Name, Address, Tel. No. &
Required Supporting Documents
Assets, Liabilities, & Initial Documents
I. Initial Documents of Deceased
Income Tax Returns for last three years
Will Deed, Codicil, Trust
II. Assets Owned by the Deceased on the Date of death:
S. No. Particulars Docs. Obtained
1. Cash at Hand
At Residence Actual Cash
At Business Premises Actual Cash
Lockers/safe deposit boxes Actual Cash
2. Bank Accounts
Checking Accounts Passbook & Statement
Saving Accounts Passbook & Statement
Fixed Deposits Certificates of Deposit
& latest statement
3. Lockers/Safe Deposit Boxes Ownership Agreement
4. Real Estate/Properties
– House/floor/flat, etc. Title Deeds,
Rental Properties Title Deeds,
Membership Cert. &
Commercial Properties Title Deeds, Membership Cert. & Rental Agreement
Land – Agri./Non-Agri. Title Deeds, Leases &
5. Income Accounts
Pension Accounts Pension Order and
Salary Statement and
Business Income Financial Statements
Profit Sharing Statements
boats/truck Title Documents
7. Business Interests
Sole Proprietorship Formation Documents
Corporation Incorporation Docs &
Partnership Partnership Deed
Life Insurance Policy
Health Insurance Policy
Auto Insurance Policy
9. Investment Accounts
Shares/Stocks Ownership Certificate
Bonds Ownership Certificate
Treasury notes/bills Ownership Certificate
Savings Bonds Ownership Certificate
10. Accounts Receivables
Money Owed by third parties
to the Deceased Agreement & Stmt. of
11. Precious metals & Art Objects
Gold & Precious metals Gold & Precious
Art Objects Art Objects
Investments Ownership documents
Money Judgments Court orders
Causes of actions Details
III. Outstanding Debts of Deceased:
S. No. Particulars Documents Obt.
1. Personal Loans
Creditor 1 Agreements & Stmt.
of amount due
Creditor 2 Agreements & Stmt.
of amount due
2. Credit Card Debts
Credit Card 1 Latest Statements
Credit Card 2 Latest Statements
3. Mortgage - Real Estate/property
Property 1 Agreement & stmt of
Property 2 Agreement & stmt of outstanding balance
4. Home Equity Loan or Other
Lines of Credit Agreement & stmt of outstanding balance
5. Auto (car/van/truck etc.) Loans
Auto Loan 1 Agreement & stmt of outstanding balance
Auto Loan 2 Agreement & stmt of outstanding balance
6. Taxes Payable
Property Tax Tax Bill
Income Tax Tax Returns & Stmt.
from Income Tax Dept
7. Utility Bills
Electricity Electricity Bill
Water Water Bill
Telephone Telephone bills
Cable & Internet Cable & Internet bill
8. Unpaid Medical bills Medical Bills
9. Funeral Bills Funeral bills
10. Unpaid professional bills
Lawyer Billing statement
Accountant Billing Statement
Financial consultant Billing Statement
Others Billing Statements
11. Other liabilities and
amounts payable Billing Statements
After collecting all information and supporting documents, Executor/Administrator is required to make inventory of assets and liabilities, obtain valuation of assets, pay outstanding debts of the deceased, and calculate net assets for distribution. Copy of inventory of assets and liabilities must be provided to all legal heirs for their review and approval prior to distribution of assets of the deceased.
Author: Santosh K. Pawar is managing attorney of Law Firm of Santosh K. Pawar. She is licensed to practice in India and U.S. (state of New York), and specializes in NRI legal counseling and services besides US Immigration, Family Law, and Property Laws. For more information and assistance, contact by email at firstname.lastname@example.org , call at (585) 264-1649 or WhatsApp at (585) 474-0935.