Legal and Financial Articles

When a person passes away there are a number of legal and financial matters that need to be taken care of. It is important to consult a lawyer and accountant who can assist with these matters, because it can be very difficult to go through the process without expert advice. If the person had a will an executor will be named and he or she will be responsible for inventorying and selling the property, identifying and paying all debts, then distributing the estate to beneficiaries. There will also be a number of tax implications including estate tax, capital gains, and so on.

10 Initial Tasks to Do After Someone Dies No Comments

When a loved one dies, you may find yourself with the responsibility of taking care of their estate. The days following the death of your loved one will be busy. It is natural to feel overwhelmed by the process of putting your loved one’s affairs in order. Typically, the following list will need to be completed within a week of your loved one’s death. You will need to obtain an original copy…

Documents Needed After a Loved One Passes No Comments

When a loved one passes, you may find yourself tasked with the duty of gathering all of the decedent’s important documents. These papers will give the family and the estate attorney the information that is necessary to put the decedent’s final affairs in order. If probate or trust settlement occurs, these documents will be required. Typically, copies of the documents…

How to Administer and Distribute an Estate No Comments

Your loved one has passed away and you have been named as an executor or administrator. Do you know your responsibilities? In general, you are responsible for ensuring that the debts and assets of the estate are distributed and managed. To do this, you will look to your loved one’s Last Will and Testament as well as local, state and federal laws…

Tax and Insurance Considerations After a Death No Comments

When you are tasked with settling someone else’s estate, you are in for a world of paperwork and bureaucracy. It should not be this way after death, and you should not have to handle such mundane tasks while you are grieving, but it is a matter of legalities. When you know the steps to follow, the process of settling someone’s estate because much less overwhelming…

After the Funeral No Comments

There’s an immediate flurry of activity after a loved one dies: informing friends and family, planning the funeral, sorting out immediate logistics for any dependent family, pets, or property, and so forth. That short term flurry of activity is just the beginning of the work, however: the recently departed person’s debts must be honored, government agencies notified, assets cared for and distributed to heirs … and while the funeral-related activities are measured in days and weeks, this second phase is usually measured in months and years. Who is Responsible? The responsibility for this second phase lies with the so-called estate “executor” (also known as the “personal representative” in many states). If the decedent passed away without legally naming an executor (typically in a will), each state has its own rules about who should, or is allowed to, serve as such an “executor”. If the court appoints this “executor”, often the role is referred to as the “administrator”. Whatever the exact title, it is the legal responsibility of the estate executor to “settle” the estate, which means to inventory the estate, resolve any debts, determine the heirs, file various legal forms, pay relevant taxes, and eventually distribute the net assets to those heirs in accordance with the terms of a valid will and/or local state ordinances. For the simplest estate, this usually takes at least 6 months, and it’s common for the process to take 18 months (and longer if the estate is complex, or there are disputes). Hiring an Attorney An executor will often hire a probate attorney to help with the process, much as a person hires an accountant to help with his or her taxes. In some states, there are rules restricting the fees such a probate attorney can charge, but in others, there are no such protections. Just as in paying taxes, however, hiring a professional to help you doesn’t absolve you of the work. Just as you need to collect and interpret your financial information for an accountant, you need to do something similar for a probate attorney … with the exception that it can be even more work, since you aren’t as familiar with the details, and you’re not just reporting a bunch of existing facts: you have to take actions to resolve debts, sell assets, etc. Online Help Some people decide that since they already have to do so much of the work themselves, it’s not worth it to hire a lawyer, and they spend some time researching the issues on the Internet, or via reference books specifically written to help with this process. Others take an easier path, using an online tool that guides them through the process and automatically keeps organized records that can be used for probate court and/or keeping the heirs informed. Much as people have largely given up filling out their taxes by hand (instead using something like TurboTax®), they are now starting to do the same for the executor process (instead using something like EstateExec™). Actually, a number