An inventory needs to be made of possessions only if a probate is filed. Seek legal help to determine what needs to be done and in what detail. In all likelihood toiletries and cleaning product and medications can be disposed of properly without maintaining them on the inventory.
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I agree with Attorney Stein. Your wife's friend is being overly cautious, but if there are additional beneficiaries of your mother-in-law's estate, the friend's concerns may be valid. Certain personal toiletries, while they have no monetary value to an outsider, may have sentimental value to a family member. Just make sure that everyone is on the same page as to the disposal of those types of items, but for tax and probate purposes, only the items of value need to be inventoried.
My answer is of a general nature and should not be construed to be legal advice nor creating an attorney-client relationship. Carol Johnson Law Firm, P.A. practices in the area of Wills, Trusts, and Estates, Disability - with a particular focus on providing Special Needs Trusts for disabled children and adults.
Clearly, it is necessary to inventory anything with a market value over $500. The sentimental value of items is not a consideration. If there are specified items of personalty named and bequeathed in the residual estate, these items should be accounted for. The balance of items may be of concern to the family, but will in all likelihood have no effect on the valuation of the estate, which is the primary purpose of an inventory.
Hope this helped.
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