Know The Duties Of An Estate Representative
When a loved one passes away, there are many things to deal with. One of those is financial and tax issues, especially if the person was well-off financially. If the person has a will or trust, they will identify an executor, which is the person who will handle these issues.
Have you been appointed executor of a deceased loved one’s estate? If so, you have an important role. By understanding what needs to be done, you can keep everyone happy and avoid probate issues.
What Does an Executor Do?
In complicated cases, a bank or other professional executor may be used to handle the finances of the deceased. In most cases, though, a trusted family member is listed as the executor.
An executor handles all the financial issues of the person’s estate. First, they will need to identify the estate’s debts and pay them off. Whatever is left is then distributed to heirs as detailed in the will or trust. The executor will then need to pay taxes and file tax returns.
This may seem fairly simple, but there are a lot of little tasks that need to be done, which can be time-consuming. Plus, there may be deadlines and a lot of money at stake. So you must get into project manager mode. Stay focused and set priorities.
Can You Avoid Probate?
If the assets are in a revocable trust, then you can avoid probate as long as there are no arguments between family members. However, if there is just a will involved, you can expect probate to occur. Probate is a long and costly process that involves court appearances and paperwork. The will goes through the courts to identify assets and debts. The assets are then distributed according to the will. If there is no estate plan in place, then assets are distributed according to state laws.
It’s common for some heirs to get impatient as they wait for their assets during the probate process. Fortunately, some assets do not need to go through probate. Real property owned as joint tenants with right of survivorship, retirement accounts, and life insurance death benefits can be passed to the rightful beneficiaries without going through probate.
As an executor, you should also get many copies of death certificates to prove that your loved one passed away. Many entities will request one, such as banks, insurance companies, retirement plans, and motor vehicle departments. Get more than you need so you always have one on hand – perhaps five or more.
Seek Legal Help
Dealing with a loved one’s death can be stressful. Not only are you dealing with grief, but also the person’s assets and debts. There are likely financial issues involved and this may lead to arguments among other family members.
Let Fort Lauderdale probate litigation lawyer Edward J. Jennings, P.A. help with disputes related to wills, trusts, and beneficiaries. Schedule a consultation with our office today by calling 954-764-4330 or filling out the online form.