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Marshaling Assets in DC Probate Cases

Once a Personal Representative has identified the estate assets, they are responsible for determining the value of the asset at the date of death. From there on, the representative has to keep a record of any change, whether it be an increase or decrease, in that specific asset. An attorney with experience in estate assets and personal representatives could help you clarify the responsibilities of marshaling assets in DC probate cases.

What Does Marshaling Assets Mean in DC Probate Cases?

Marshaling assets in DC probate cases means identifying estate assets, such as those that were in the decedent’s sole name, and then collecting all of them and placing them in the name of the estate instead of the decedent.  Usually, this includes making a complete inventory of the estate assets.

The Personal Representative is responsible for identifying those assets and can do so by looking through the decedent’s papers to find them. They also can search real property records and unclaimed property. Another good source of information is a person’s mail, for bank statements or financial statements that can help identify a person’s assets.  Finally, often a decedent’s last tax returns can be helpful in locating bank accounts or other assets in the decedent’s name.

Responsibilities Associated with Marshaling Assets

The scope of marshaling assets in DC probate cases will greatly change depending on the size or complexity of the case itself. If a person dies with many assets in their sole name, it can take a Personal Representative a much longer time to identify every asset and collect them. For each, they must communicate and work with the financial institution holding the asset.

If real estate is involved and it is not titled jointly with another person or with a person with a right of survivorship, the Personal Representative will have the property appraised to determine the date-of-death value and ultimately sell the real estate.

That can take much more time than collecting an asset such as a bank account. In addition, if a person has assets or real property that is located outside of DC, that will complicate things further because the representative might have to open an ancillary administration process in the outlying jurisdiction to get the authority to marshal those assets.

What Factors Make Marshaling Easier?

If a decedent has a small number of estate assets, that can make the whole process of marshaling them easier. Similarly, if a person does not own real estate in their sole name, there is none to be sold or re-titled into the name of another person. It generally is helpful to have an attorney who can guide someone through marshaling assets, making the process easier for the Personal Representative who may have trouble trying to marshal them with financial institutions. An attorney may be able to communicate with financial institutions more easily because they are more familiar with the terminology involved in marshaling estate assets.

Common Misconceptions for Identifying Assets

One common misconception about marshaling assets in DC probate cases is that the Personal Representative owns the estate’s assets, but that is not the case. The Personal Representative only has the authority to act on behalf of the estate and therefore manage its assets.

Often, that can be confusing because once the asset is collected, the name of the asset changes from the decedent’s sole name to the name of the estate in care of the representative. Because the Personal Representative’s name ends up on the account, some may be confused about ownership.