February 25, 2024 3:35 PM
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How Does Probate and Estate Administration Work?

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How does probate and estate administration work

Dealing with the death of a loved one is always challenging. It becomes more complex when you must take on the responsibility of probating their estate.

This process involves determining what property they owned, paying their debts, and distributing their assets to beneficiaries. It includes following specific steps outlined in your state’s laws and following a timeline set out by the courts.

Inventorying Assets

Once a case opens, the executor or administrator will make a list of all estate assets. They will also have all assets appraised if necessary.

This is a major task that will involve diving into bank and investment account statements, real estate records, insurance policies, and more. It will also include finding legal heirs. Most states have a set of laws that dictate where inheritances go based on relationships.

This is also the time to pay final bills, like funeral expenses, medical and property tax bills. It’s important to keep meticulous records so you can provide a clear accounting of estate assets and debts to the court and any creditors. An experienced probate attorney can help.

Final Bills

During the estate administration process, there are a lot of moving parts. The executor or administrator may have to pay estate debts. They also have to file an income tax return, either the fiduciary or estate income tax return, depending on what state the deceased person lived in.

Some assets don’t have to go through probate, including property titled as joint tenants with right of survivorship or life insurance policies and retirement accounts with designated beneficiaries. However, transferring those types of assets to beneficiaries can still be complicated and time-consuming.

And if the deceased’s will is contested, it can be even more time-consuming and costly to resolve. That’s why it’s important to work with a lawyer that’s experienced in both probate and estate planning to avoid these hidden landmines. We here at Trustate can help you administer both probate and non-probate assets. Book a call with us today! Stephen A. Tremer, Esq.

Taxes

As the estate closes, taxes must be paid. This involves preparing and filing an income tax return for the estate as well as tax returns for any assets that earned income during the administration process such as interest or dividends.

A personal representative must also prepare and file an inventory of the estate’s assets – including those that passed outside of probate through beneficiary designation or otherwise – and a list of claims. This stage can take a while and is required by law. It may require an appraisal of real property and other valuable items.

It’s a common misconception that using a will avoids Probate. While it can help, most estates are required to go through the Probate process and there is a lot of work that needs to be done. Having an experienced attorney with expertise in probate and estate administration can make things much easier and offer priceless peace of mind. Trustate works with families to administer both probated and non-probate assets.

Creditors

If a person dies with a debt, those creditors must be paid. This can be done through the estate’s final income tax return. Some states also have inheritance taxes that can be levied once the estate reaches a certain value.

A lawyer who specializes in probate and estate administration can help guide you through this process. They’ll review your state laws and ensure that the proper documents are filed. They can also take care of settling your loved one’s debts and distributing their property according to their will or state law.

Probate and estate administration are complex processes. However, understanding how they work can help you navigate them effectively. And with the right legal guidance, you can fulfill your duties without too much stress. This is why you should consider working with a professional estate planning attorney who can guide you through the process of creating a comprehensive plan for your future. With this in place, you can rest easy knowing that your loved ones will be taken care of after your death.

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