Remove and secure assets of value in home

Unfortunately, thieves are clever and can easily tell if someone is not home. The obituary in the local newspaper is also a helpful “tip” to them that the home might soon be vacant. Don’t make the house a target by leaving valuables inside a vacant home.

Create an Inventory

When you remove items from the home, it is important to write down each item, creating a mini-inventory. It also is a good idea to write down where you found the item in case questions arise. For example, if the decedent is a collector of figurines, which are removed from the home, a beneficiary might not know the name or proper description for it beyond describing that it always sat on the top shelf of the bookcase.

Handle Items with Care

As you remove these items, be sure to treat them with care. You are a custodian of them temporarily as someone who acts for the benefit of the beneficiaries. If the items need special protective packaging, get it. If they need special storage conditions, make sure those are met. Not everything can sit in your garage at home. The heat, cold, humidity, etc., can damage or ruin certain items.

Store Items Properly

Another decision to make is where to store these valuable items. It might be enough to bring them to your home and put them in the closet until it is time to value and distribute them. There might be items that are much larger, though, that need to be placed in a professional storage location. Also, you might not want to have items of that great value stored in your home, so getting a safe deposit box or other secure storage location that you use in the name of the estate can be a good idea.

Confirm Insurance

If there are items that were insured by the decedent, you should confirm that those policies are still in place and understand when the next payments are due. You should consider contacting the insurance company to learn of any specific requirements you must meet (like the requirement to utilize a centrally-monitored security system) to stay in compliance with the policy. This is particularly important if there is personal property of great value – like original art or antiques.

Consider Adding Insurance

If some items are uninsured, but you believe they should be insured to mitigate any risk in moving them or storing them, you could explore options to get the item(s) insured. If you believe there are items of significant value within an estate, consult a tax advisor regarding the current tax value of those items, and the potential tax implications to the estate and beneficiaries of appraising and insuring those items.

Maintain Items Properly

There might be some items of value that need regular use or care to stay in top condition. Heirloom watches or clocks sometimes need to be wound daily. Cars might need to be driven occasionally or taken to the shop. It is likely your responsibility as an executor to tend to these tasks to safeguard the value of significant assets. Be sure you do so within applicable laws and regulations. For example, don’t drive without insurance or with expired plates.