Losing a loved one is difficult enough without the added stress of having to probate your loved one’s estate. Perhaps you are wondering what is involved in probating an estate? Although every estate is unique, here is a partial list of the duties required in a “typical” probate proceeding:
- Locate and file the decedent’s will (if he or she had one) with the local court
- File necessary probate documents with the court
- Ascertain and then notify all known creditors of the estate
- Secure the decedent’s residence and tangible personal property
- Locate, inventory, custody, close and transfer personal assets and accounts
- Appraise and determine the value of all assets
- Make payments to creditors, discharge the decedent’s obligations and obtain creditor releases
- Process and obtain life insurance death benefits, if any
- File tax returns (federal and state) and make appropriate tax elections
- Pay estate taxes and final personal income taxes, if any
- Obtain tax releases and closing letters from the IRS, local courts and state taxing authorities
- Make specific bequests, together with partial and final distributions, to beneficiaries.
- Provide detailed accounting to beneficiaries and the local court
As you can well imagine, accomplishing all of this takes a great deal of time. When you factor in the grief that comes with losing a loved one, the situation can seem overwhelming.
You do not have to go through probate alone. We can guide you through the process and settle the estate as quickly and economically as possible, so you can focus on what is most important—coming to terms with your loss.
Many people think that once they have funded a trust it will take effect “automatically” when it is needed. Not so. For a trust to carry out the wishes of its maker, the trust must be administered. Trust administration involves filing the will with the local court and tax filings with the state and the Internal Revenue Service. In addition, the law requires that trust beneficiaries and others are notified of the decedent’s passing. Additional duties can include opening bank accounts, settling creditor claims, obtaining a new tax ID number, arranging for the sale of assets, paying the final expenses of the decedent, and more. Proper accounting practices must be maintained throughout the entire process.
Failure to properly administer a trust can have serious financial and legal consequences for the trustee. Do not take the decision to serve as trustee lightly. If you have been asked to do so, we can explain the steps involved and the potential risks in clear, easy-to-understand language. If you decide to serve as trustee, we can guide you through the process every step of the way. We can help you choose the ideal trustee if you decide not to take on the responsibility yourself. We can also work closely with your existing advisors and representatives to ensure the directives of the trust are carried out properly.
Contact us at your earliest convenience for a personal meeting to discuss your particular situation. You are not alone during this difficult time in your life.