Losing a loved one is difficult enough without the added stress of making important financial decisions that can dramatically impact your family for years to come. If you have been asked to oversee the administration of an estate and its trusts, you should know what is involved before agreeing to do so. Every estate is different, but here is a partial list of the duties required:
- Prepare application for tax identification number if there is no surviving spouse
- Prepare and mail out date of death valuation letters to determine the value of accounts
- Prepare signature cards for estate bank accounts
- Close decedent’s bank accounts
- Open estate checking and savings (or money market) accounts
- Transfer assets to name of succession
- Change decedent’s mailing address
- Cancel subscriptions, etc. and request refunds for unexpired terms
- Extend insurance coverage to protect estate for home, motor vehicles, etc., titled in decedent’s name
- File life insurance claims and request copies of Federal Form 712
- Complete Sworn Descriptive List detailing any expenses/liabilities the estate has incurred (such as funeral expenses)
Some estates and trusts can be considerably more complicated and require much more than the duties listed above.
It is important to note that if the estate and/or trust assets are improperly accounted for, the executor and/or trustee can be held personally liable. In addition, tax minimization and cost reduction strategies might be overlooked. There could also be confusion and infighting over exactly “who is entitled to what” and whether all of the California laws have been followed to the letter. Unfortunately, all of this can lead to litigation, costly delays and even devastating financial consequences.
We can work with you to resolve outstanding debts and expenses; distribute assets to the proper beneficiaries as quickly and efficiently as possible; minimize estate taxes; administer trusts in conjunction with your family’s existing advisors and fiduciaries; and help you avoid the types of mistakes that can leave you subject to personal financial liability.
If you have been called upon to administer an estate or serve as trustee, you are not alone. We can guide you every step of the way. Contact us today to discuss your particular situation and needs.