Assets include real estate, stocks, mutual funds, jewelry, furniture, cars, and so forth: anything that's worth money (see Managing Assets for a general discussion on the topic).
To manage assets using EstateExec, begin by listing all significant and relevant assets in the Assets tab (see Enter Asset for specific EstateExec instructions, and Taking Inventory for some practical advice).
If you already have a list of assets, you may be able to automatically import that list into EstateExec: see Asset File Import.
Next you will want to plan the disposition of those assets: by the end of the estate settlement process, no assets should remain in the estate. To help you with this, the Assets table contains a Plan column, which you can set to one of the following:
- Discard: The asset has no value and no heir wants it, so you plan to simply throw it away (this is uncommon: there's no need to individually list a bunch of small worthless items as assets).
- Distribute: You plan to distribute this asset to one or more heirs.
- Sell: You plan to sell this asset and deposit the proceeds into the estate account, for use to pay estate expenses or make cash distributions.
- Transfer: You plan to transfer the value from this asset to another (perhaps consolidating accounts). Note that you can transfer a portion of value from one asset to another, and then apply any of the other settlement actions to the remainder of that original asset. In such cases, the Plan is what you intend to do with the remainder (e.g., Distribute).
Once you have a complete plan (or even before), you can take action to "settle" individual assets (i.e., distribute, sell, transfer, or dispose):
- Select the desired asset by clicking its selection checkmark in the leftmost cell of the asset's row
- Click the Settle button at the top of the table, and choose the desired outcome
- Fill in the dialog that appears, and press OK
You can also directly access the desired settlement dialog by clicking the corresponding cell in the asset's row (e.g., Distributed).
In addition to "settling" assets, an executor also has to manage estate expenses, deposit asset sale proceeds, write checks to heirs, and so forth. It's best to establish an estate account asset to handle such transactions: once you have opened an estate account at a commercial bank, you can create the corresponding asset within EstateExec just like any other asset, selecting its type to be "Estate Account".
The Cashflow Tab allows you to track transactions for the estate account, automatically updating the Value Now of the account on the Assets tab. In fact, all of EstateExec is quite integrated, so, for example, if you record the sale of an asset via the Assets tab, that transaction will also show up on the Cashflow tab. You only have to enter a transaction once, and it will be linked everywhere it needs to be. EstateExec allows you to simplify things further, and can optionally download transactions from your estate account's bank (see Bank Import, saving time and minimizing errors that might occur if entering everything manually.
You may occasionally want to track transactions within other assets as well (for example, sometimes an existing checking account incurs several automated bill pay withdrawals in the early stages of estate settlement). Just select the asset you wish to manage using the dropdown at the top right of the Cashflow tab, and enter the relevant transactions. Note that EstateExec supports only one automated bank connection, though, and it's usually best to use that for the estate account. You can manage the estate's bank link via Estate Actions dropdown on the Overview tab.
Note that we do not normally recommend that you track every stock trade that occurs within a brokerage account or retirement fund: it is usually easier to simply report the total value of such accounts at the time of death, and update the Value Now at the time of distribution or transfer. However, if you are initiating sizable trades, or the estate is undergoing probate and the judge is quite particular, or you believe you may have issues with disgruntled heirs, you may want to track internal transactions.
You can delete an asset from the Assets tab by selecting its row and then pressing the Delete button at the top of the tab.
Don't delete an asset just because it has been sold, distributed, or otherwise settled. Only delete assets that were created by mistake.
If you delete an asset that actually existed in the estate, EstateExec will no longer be able to generate accurate Inventory Reports from the time of death, or a Final Accounting Report that shows changes to the estate over time. Moreover, when you delete an asset, all references to it will be deleted, including any sales proceeds or distributions.
If you want to see just the current contents of an estate, simply filter the Assets table to include only those with a Value Now > 0.
The Estate Disposition chart on the Overview tab provides feedback on your overall plan and status in implementing that plan. Eventually, all assets should have a plan, and all plans should have been carried out. The Heir Allocation charts provide feedback on how your plan is meeting the percentage heir allocation targets.
The following topics provide more detailed instruction on using EstateExec to manage assets: