When a person dies with a will, the executor must file a petition with the register of wills or with the probate court, depending on the state of residence procedures, to probate the will. Once letters testatmentary are obtained, the executor can then act for the estate.
If there is no will, then the administrator would file such a petition and would be granted letters of administration to act for the estate.
Obtain EIN For The Estate
An employer identification number will have to be obtained for the estate. State laws require certain notices and advertisement of death.
Collecting and Preserving and Transferring Assets of Decedent To the Estate Account or Name
Letters testamentary granted to the executor will allow that person to administer the estate by collecting all assets, transferring assets into the estate account, investing these assets in a prudent manner during the estate administration.
Paying Administration, Funeral and Debts of the Estate
The executor must pay all funeral expenses, debts, administration costs, taxes of the estate.
Tax Return Preparation
Final income tax returns for the decedent and the various tax returns of the estate have to be prepared and filed. Various tax elections may have to be made. Tax clearances must be obtained from the various taxing authorities.
Final Accounting or Family Settlement Agreement
Once all obligations are satisfied, tax clearances are granted, the executor must either file a formal final accounting and have it approved by the court. In some cases, a family settlement agreement can be signed and agreed to between the executor and all beneficiaries.
Once all tax clearances are obtained and the final accounting is approved or a family settlement agreement is finalized, the remaining assets are paid to the named beneficiary in the will or to the pourover trust if the residual provision of the will so provides.
This is just an overview and not an all inclusive list as to the steps involved in any estate administration. The rules can vary from state to state and there may be special procedures or additional steps depending on the estate or the state involved. This gives you an idea as to why most people retain an estates lawyer to assist them.
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