Sometimes, estate or trust administration appears to be all wrapped up, and the estate is officially closed or the trust is terminated. Then weeks, months, or years afterward, other assets are discovered. Now what?
Generally speaking, guidelines to distributing assets discovered after an estate has been closed encompass the following:
- When someone dies intestate (without a will), state law determines the rightful heirs of the estate’s property. Newly discovered assets will be distributed by the same formula.
- If the decedent died and had a will, and if the estate needs to be reopened because of additional assets, the “new” assets will be distributed according to the provisions in the will, just as the “original” assets were.
- If the decedent passed away with a will that called for all assets to be placed in the decedent’s trust, any new assets will wind up in the trust, too, to be held, sold, or distributed in accordance with the terms of the trust. The beneficiaries of the trust are the rightful recipients of newly discovered assets.
It is imperative to know who the rightful recipients are to assets discovered after the estate has been closed, and what to do next. Consulting an experienced estate attorney can help you avoid disputes, potential liability, and harm to the estate.