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Locating assets when a loved one dies

It can sometimes be problematic for people in Florida to locate all the assets of an estate after a family member or loved one passes. Often, the decedent will have several different accounts and property held in different states or by different means of ownership. There are a few steps that can be taken to locate the decedent's assets.

The website of the county assessor, or the county assessor's office, can be good resources for locating assets. It is usually possible to perform a search based on the person's name or address and find information about any real estate that the decedent owned. Another avenue for real estate searches is the Geographical Information System, or GIS. The GIS has plat information for real estate, so it is possible to see how the property is laid out and where it is physically located.

For financial information and accounts, tax returns are a good place to start. Any accounts that issue 1099s will have their information listed on tax returns. If the decedent received an interest payment from a particular bank, it is likely he or she had an account there. People generally also keep records of accounts with other important paperwork somewhere in their homes. A search of the desk drawers or file cabinets might turn up information that would otherwise go undiscovered.

In cases where a person needs to locate the assets of a deceased friend or relative, an attorney may be able to help. An attorney with experience in estate administration and probate might be able to suggest places to look to find relevant information. For those who are considering creating an estate plan in Florida, an attorney might be able to organize assets so that they can be easily found by heirs or draft estate planning instruments to meet a client's needs and goals.

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