Real estate, mortgage loans and paperwork

Estate Administration: Understanding the Key Steps

Estate administration, whether through probate after a loved one’s passing or trust administration, can be complex. You might wonder about the steps involved if you’re a trustee, fiduciary, or beneficiary. 

Let’s break down the essential stages using the acronym E.A.T.T.T.

E – Estate

Open the Estate: Depending on the nature of the estate, you might need to:

  • File your loved one’s will at the local probate court and have someone appointed as the executor or personal representative.
  • If there’s no will or trust, petition the probate court to appoint an administrator or executor.
  • If your loved one had a trust, open a trust estate administration. Working with an experienced elder law or estate attorney throughout this process is crucial.

A – Assets

Asset Inventory: As the appointed representative or trustee:

  • Marshal all assets and debts of the estate.
  • Determine which assets are probate assets and which avoid probate.
  • Capture the date of death value for each asset. This is crucial for tax purposes.

T – Taxes

Addressing the Tax Man: The tax authorities will be interested in the estate’s valuation at the time of death. You might need to:

  • File a final decedent return (Form 1040) to notify tax authorities of your loved one’s passing.
  • File a 1041 form if the estate has earned significant income.
  • File an M 706 estate tax return if it’s a taxable estate on the federal or state level.

T – Transparency

Maintain Open Communication: It’s essential to:

  • Communicate regularly and consistently with beneficiaries and loved ones.
  • Set expectations regarding the duration of the estate administration process.
  • Give all beneficiaries a voice in the process.

T – Transfer

Transfer of Assets: Once all taxes are addressed, and you’ve communicated with all parties:

  • Read the will or trust with your attorney to understand the distribution methods.
  • Make proper distributions, ensuring you follow the terms and conditions of the will or trust.
  • Pay attention to specific instructions, especially if beneficiaries are minors, incapacitated, or on government benefits.

Wrapping up

Estate administration can be a lengthy and intricate process, but understanding the key steps can make it more manageable. If you’re navigating this journey, remember to consult with professionals and always prioritize clear communication.
For more insights into estate planning and elder law, we’d love to see you at an upcoming workshop or check out our Elder Law Academy to learn about important legal matters from home at your own pace.

We help you protect the people you love the most.

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