It is the fiduciary's responsibility to take control of all assets comprising an estate or trust. Especially when a fiduciary assumes office at the grantors or testators death, it is crucial to secure and value all assets as soon as possible. Some assets, such as brokerage accounts, may be accessed immediately; others, such as insurance, may have to be applied for by filing a claim. The usual practice is to engage a professional appraiser to value the decedents tangible property, such as household furniture, automobiles, jewelry, artwork, and collectibles. Depending on the nature and value of the property, this may be a routine activity, but you may need the services of a specialist appraiser if, for example, the decedent had rare or unusual items or was a serious collector. Real estate, whether it is a home or commercial property, and any business interests must also be valued. Besides providing a valuation for assets that may be reported on a court-required inventory or on the state or federal estate tax return, the appraisal can help the fiduciary to gauge whether the decedents insurance coverage on the assets is sufficient. Appropriate insurance should be maintained throughout the fiduciary's tenure. The fiduciary also must value financial assets, including bank and securities accounts.
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