At the Andersen Firm we strive to
develop Estate Plans that allow our clients to avoid Probate proceedings whenever possible.
Yet these matters do occur for a variety of reasons and when they do, we focus on
making the experience as easy and comfortable as possible.If the circumstances surrounding
a client’s estate require probate, or if a client comes to us in need of probate assistance,
our attorneys offer extensive experience in handling the processes and legalities involved.
Throughout the Probate period, we use our expertise to work through the probate process
while protecting the wishes of the decedent.
Probate and Trust Settlement
The following is a summary of the steps to be taken when settling an estate or trust. The person responsible for settling an estate is called the PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE ("PR") and the person responsible for settling a trust is called a SUCCESSOR TRUSTEE ("Trustee").
- Inventory of Documents and Finances
The PR or Trustee should locate all original estate planning documents and any additional written instructions the decedent may have left.
- Appointing a Personal Representative
If assets are owned out-side a trust probate documents need to be filed with the appropriate court in the county where the decedent resided at the time of death to appoint a PR to oversee the disposition of the estate. If assets titled in individual name are located in another state an ancillary probate may be necessary.
- Obtain EIN and Open Bank Account
The PR must obtain a taxpayer identification number for the estate and open an estate checking account for use in holding estate assets and paying estate debts. The Trustee must obtain a taxpayer identification number for the decedent’s trust and notify the decedent’s bank that he or she is the Successor Trustee of the decedent’s trust.
- Give Notice to Beneficiaries
The PR must forward the Notice of Administration to all beneficiaries. In some states, the PR must send a complete copy of the Will to beneficiaries. If the decedent did not leave a will, the PR must send a copy of the Letters of Administration to each heir.
- Payments of Expenses
The Clerk will publish a notice in the local newspaper to notify any unknown creditors of the decedent’s death.
- File Documents with Court
The PR must file an inventory of the decedent’s estate assets within 60 days of appointment unless waived by the Will or by consent of residual beneficiaries.
- Payment of Taxes
The PR or Trustee must determine if any federal and/or state estate tax returns will need to be filed and, if taxes are due, how the taxes will be paid. Estate tax returns are due 9 months after the decedent’s date of death.
- Distribution of Assets
The PR or Trustee must make the final distribution of the decedent’s property and obtain receipts from the beneficiaries. The PR must file all required closing documents with the Court to close the estate.