Settling an estate
can be an overwhelming process leading to many questions. Seeking help from professional estate attorneys and KIKO Asset Advisors will provide you with a smoother transition and reduced stress. Below are 11 points you should focus on when settling an estate.
- Find the will, if any. Finding the will can be a daunting task if your relative did not inform you where to look. Look and desks, filing cabinets, fireproof boxes, and anywhere else the deceased person may have stored important documents.
- File the will with the local probate court. Be sure to make a copy for yourself, then file the original with the probate court. Even if you don’t think you’re going to need to conduct a formal probate court proceeding, you’re required by law to deposit the will with the court.
- Notify agencies and business of the death. For example, you should notify: post office, utility companies, credit card companies, banks, and other business with whom the deceased person had an account.
- Inventory assets and get appraisals. Creating a thorough inventory of assets is an important step for determining the value of the estate. KIKO Asset Advisors have the knowledge and expertise to accurately appraise valuables, real estate, furniture and more. Contact a KIKO Expert today!
- Decide whether probate is necessary. To determine if probate is necessary, you’ll have to tally up the value of the property subject to probate, see how title is held, and learn your state’s rules on what estates qualify for simplified procedures. You may also want to hire a lawyer to help you with probate paperwork or to help solve any disputes among beneficiaries or creditors.
- Coordinate with the successor trustee. If the deceased left both a will and a living trust, you’ll need to work closely with your counterpart who’s in charge of trust assets. A living trust is like a will in that it lets someone leave property to named beneficiaries. The major difference is that a trust property does not have to go through probate before it can be turned over to those who will inherit it.
- Communicate with beneficiaries. The court, or lawyer, can help you notify beneficiaries. If the estate goes though probate, you’ll have to send notices to certain groups of people. It’s always a good idea to be in regular communication with beneficiaries.
- Take good care of estate assets. Taking care of the assets is a key part of the executor’s job. You must keep the real estate well maintained, valuables secured, and everything of value insured. Your goal as an executor is to avoid losing money, not to make big returns.
- Pay bills owed by the estate. As executor, you are responsible for paying legitimate bills, as there is enough money in the estate to pay them. You do not have to pay the deceased persons debts out of your own pocket. If you are concerned about not having enough money to pay the bills, get some guidance from the court or an attorney about which debts should take priority.
- Deal with taxes. You will need to file income tax returns for the deceased person and possibly for the estate. If the estate is very large, over 5 million, you may also need to file estate tax returns. Depending on where the deceased person lived and owned proper, smaller estates may have to pay state estate tax.
- Distribute assets. After the debts and taxes are paid, when probate (if any) is closed, your last job is to distribute the property to the people who inherit it under the will or state law.