Collect estate assets

Settle the Estate

Before the executor can pay debts of the estate or give the deceased’s assets to beneficiaries and heirs, it will be important to inventory and liquidate all assets.

During the legal probate process, collecting assets may also be referred to as “marshaling the assets.”

All assets that were in the deceased’s name alone must be collected and deposited into the estate bank account.

Lightbulb_Icon.svgGood to Know Physical assets, such as personal property, may have to be sold, or “liquidated” and their funds deposited into the estate bank account in order to pay the bills and debts of the deceased.

Assets that will need to be inventoried, collected, and liquidated include:

  • Financial accounts of the deceased
  • Wages and benefits owed to the deceased by their employer (if they were working)
  • Real estate (if sold)
  • Personal property of the deceased, such as furniture, collectibles, vehicles
  • Social security death benefits
  • Tax refunds owed to the deceased
  • Additional benefits such as the Armed Forces death gratuity, Veterans Affairs death benefit, COVID-19 funeral assistance, and FEMA funeral assistance
  • Debts owed to the deceased by individuals or organizations
  • Business assets, if the deceased owned or operated a business

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant It is important to collect any assets of value and, if they include liquid funds, deposit those funds in the estate bank account. Keep accurate and detailed records of all assets collected, even if they are not deposited into the estate bank account (such as real estate).

Helpful Tips


The process for collecting, inventorying, and liquidating assets is not always intuitive.

Different types of asset will require different processes for accessing and liquidating the asset. If the deceased had a will, it is important to review any instructions contained in the will regarding the deceased’s assets.

For instance, if the deceased owned real estate, their will might instruct that the real estate be sold to pay their debts or it might be given to an heir of the deceased - in which case the asset should not be liquidated but, managed in order to prevent losses or damage.

If the deceased does not have a will, or the will does not provide instructions regarding their assets, here are some ideas for liquidating specific types of assets:

  • Financial accounts of the deceased. Withdraw funds from these accounts and deposit them into the Estate bank account. Close any accounts of the deceased.
  • Wages and benefits owed to the deceased by their employer. Contact the deceased’s employer to collect any unpaid wages or benefits. Deposit the funds into the Estate bank account.
  • Real estate. It may be wise to work with a real estate broker familiar with Estate. The house should also be appraised before sale. Once the house sells, deposit any funds into the Estate bank account.
  • Personal property of the deceased. Give personal property to any heirs that want the property. Unwanted property can be sold, donated, or thrown away (depending on its quality). Keep meticulous records of what was done with all personal property and deposit any proceeds from selling personal property into the Estate bank account.
  • Social security death benefits. Contact the Social Security Administration for any deah benefits owed to the deceased. Deposit any benefits into the Estate bank account.
  • Tax refunds owed to the deceased. After filing the deceased’s final taxes, they might be entitled to a refund. Any refunds should be deposited into the Estate bank account.
  • Additional benefits (such as the Armed Forces death gratuity, Veterans Affairs death benefit, COVID-19 funeral assistance, and FEMA funeral assistance). Contact the appropriate agency to collect these benefits and deposit any funds into the Estate bank account.
  • Debts owed to the deceased by individuals or organizations. Contact the individuals or organizations who owe the deceased and notify them that they will need to pay the Executor or Administrator any debts owed. Deposit any payments into the Estate bank account.
  • Business assets. The Executor and Heirs of the deceased will need to determine whether to close the business or continue operating the business. Any income received from the business needs to be deposited into the Estate bank account.

Personal Considerations


Have you opened an estate bank account?


Use the estate’s bank account for collecting all assets of the deceased.

Once bills and debts of the deceased have been paid, any remaining assets can be distributed to heirs and beneficiaries as part of the legal probate process.


Open an estate bank account using the estate’s taxpayer identification number (EIN) obtained from the IRS.

An estate bank account will be necessary to hold any liquid assets of the deceased during the legal probate process.

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant Estate funds should not be placed in the executor or administrator’s personal bank account, as this may be considered a breach of the executor’s fiduciary duty.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More To learn more about Tax ID Numbers, see the “Obtain an IRS Tax ID number for the estate” Task of the Guide.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More To learn more about opening an estate bank account, see the “Open an estate bank account” Task of the Guide.


If you have opened an estate bank account:

Use the estate’s bank account for collecting all assets of the deceased.

Once bills and debts of the deceased have been paid, any remaining assets can be distributed to heirs and beneficiaries as part of the legal probate process.

If you have not opened an estate bank account:

Open an estate bank account using the estate’s taxpayer identification number (EIN) obtained from the IRS.

An estate bank account will be necessary to hold any liquid assets of the deceased during the legal probate process.

Exclamation_Icon.svgImportant Estate funds should not be placed in the executor or administrator’s personal bank account, as this may be considered a breach of the executor’s fiduciary duty.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More To learn more about Tax ID Numbers, see the “Obtain an IRS Tax ID number for the estate” Task of the Guide.

Guides_Icon.svgRead More To learn more about opening an estate bank account, see the “Open an estate bank account” Task of the Guide.

Providers to Contact


Probate Attorneys Near You

Probate attorneys help settle a deceased person’s estate. They can help collect any assets, wages, or benefits owed to the deceased.

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Settle the Estate