The loss of a loved one is a painful, emotionally devastating life event. Even worse, the confusion that can come when dealing with that loved one’s estate can amplify the grief that accompanies loss. Whether or not there is a will, meeting with an attorney to go over the steps required to administer that estate can ease the burden so you can begin the process of healing.
Estate Administration in a Nutshell
When you’re ready to see an attorney, gather as much paperwork as possible regarding finances, debt, and taxes so your attorney can work with you to organize them and determine how to begin estate administration.
While the rules of estate administration vary from state to state, there are some overall steps that are required.
– File the will.
In addition to filing the will, petition the court to be appointed executor so you can begin taking stock of the estate.
– Take inventory of everything your loved one owned.
The list must be filed with probate court. Regarding cash assets, merging them into a single checking account can make it easier to keep track of estate expenses, which will need to be included when closing the estate in probate court.
– Pay taxes and bills.
It can be difficult to determine what bills need to be paid and whether or no state or federal estate taxes are owed, but an attorney who specializes in estate administration can help.
– File final tax returns.
One last federal and state income tax return will need to be filed following death. If there are any assets that are part of the estate earning interest or dividends, a tax return for the estate must also be filed.
– Distribute property.
As executor, it would be smart to wait for a period of time before distributing assets to ensure that any creditor claims can be paid. The bulk of assets can likely be distributed as long as there is a reserve in place for paying anticipated claims and other costs.
– File a final account.
A record of earned income, distribution of estate assets and expenses paid must be filed with probate court in order to close the estate.If you are looking for an attorney who specializes in estate administration, please call the law offices of Steven W. Tarta, Esquire at (201) 444-8448 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Tarta Law office has more than 45 years of experience. His practice focuses on all forms of estate planning and elder law. Tarta Law serves clients in Midland Park, Ridgewood, Glen Rock, Wycoff and Franklin Lakes.