Why you need to secure property during estate administration

On Behalf of | Jan 29, 2021 | Probate and Estate Administration

Organization is often an important characteristic for a good executor or estate administrator. You will need to mentally track progress on multiple different processes and projects simultaneously. You also need to remain aware of what you have distributed to people and what assets remain.

Before you get into the detailed work of categorizing the property, settling household accounts, filing tax returns and distributing assets to family members, you will first need to secure the property belonging to the deceased.

If they lived alone, you may want to change the locks to the property. If they cohabited with someone else, you may need to remove specific valuable items from the shared space or secure a room in the space for storage during estate administration. You may even want to install security cameras. Why is it so important to physically secure someone’s property when they die?

Criminals target people and places they know are vulnerable

When you run an obituary, you notify your entire community about the death of your loved one. This is an important step prior to having a funeral, but it does also put the household of the deceased on the radar of local criminals.

Some people will intentionally target properties owned by those who recently died. Assuming no one will be home, they might break in to steal as much as they can, possibly depriving the beneficiaries of the estate of thousands of dollars in electronics, jewelry and other valuable items.

Sometimes the biggest threat is from the family members of the deceased

Even if you don’t run an obituary or you live in an area where theft crimes are unlikely to occur, you may still need to consider securing the property. After all, you are technically responsible for the assets in the estate as executor.

If another family member or heir lets themselves in and helps themselves to an inappropriate amount of assets, you will have little recourse unless you want to involve law enforcement. Family members often know exactly what has the most value and where someone kept it. People might take family heirlooms or even deeds and other crucial paperwork.

Quickly moving to secure the most valuable assets in the physical residence of a deceased person is an important early step in proper estate administration. By protecting the assets, you help ensure that you will retain control over the property that the deceased expected you to distribute to their loved ones.