“The adjustment to the loss of a loved one is hard enough without the inevitable workload of settling their affairs. Even if they don’t have much in the way of assets, the process takes time – typically up to a year.”
Get some good advice from tax, estate, and financial planning experts in the preparation of an estate plan. An accredited estate planning attorney is a good choice to start the process, says The Montgomery Advertiser in its article, “Checklist for settling an estate.”
Here’s an idea of what happens at critical intervals of the process. This list can be a key estate-planning tool because how you handle the estate, financial, and funeral arrangements can significantly reduce the stress on family members. This list is helpful for survivors as well as for -hose who are preparing for their future. Work through this list and discuss it with your executor while you’re in good health. If you make changes, let your executor know.
Collect key documents. An executor must locate, identify, and organize a deceased person’s financial records, tax returns, and other important documents to see what he or she owned or controlled. Having all that summarized in one place is a huge help.
Pick up the phone. The executor should inform key contacts that the person has died. This should include the Social Security Administration, if the deceased was receiving benefits; the Veterans Administration, if he or she was a qualified veteran for burial benefits; his or her employer; insurance companies; banks and credit unions; the mortgage company; and credit card companies for possible death benefits. Creditors will probably request a copy of the death certificate, so be sure to have enough copies.
File the will for probate. If you have the will, the executor named in the will should be notified. A decision needs to be made about filing the will for probate. Probate the will if there’s property in the name of the decedent that needs to be transferred. Anything in joint names with a surviving spouse or surviving children doesn’t pass under the will.
Get an estate planning attorney. The executor can elect to work with an experienced estate attorney, which is a good idea. If there’s no will and no trust, the property owned by the deceased will pass to the "intestate" heirs, which is determined by state law. In that scenario, one or more of those -heirs will need to file a petition for "letters of administration" in order to sell or transfer the decedent's property. Call Rowley Law today to schedule an appointment,847-490-5330
Pay bills. The executor must make sure that the deceased’s bills and other debts continue to be paid until they are disposed of.
Pay the taxes. Ask a qualified estate planning attorney for advice. The executor should be certain there’s a final income tax return filed on behalf of the deceased, and may need to file income tax returns and an estate tax return.
Distribute the assets. Once all of the expenses and taxes are set, the assets are distributed.
At that point, the estate is closed.
Reference: Montgomery Advertiser (January 4, 2017) “Checklist for settling an estate”