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What Families Should Know: Steps of Probate

 Posted by Bradford Kaune on April 20, 2015 at 8:00 AM

What Families Should Know: Steps of Probate

This is the second in a series about probate. See our previous blog post to learn more.

When it comes to the probate process, some states have adopted a Uniform Probate Code (UPC) and adhere to a general set of laws. Other states have a different set of requirements and processes.  Yet, a general outline of probate includes:

Appointing a Personal Representative

This role is usually referred to as Executor or Administrator and is the fiduciary put in charge of settling the decedent’s estate. If there is a Last Will, the probate judge will typically appoint the Personal Representative named in the will as the Executor, unless the will is contested or the representative does not qualify on legal grounds, such as being convicted of a felony. If a Personal Representative is not named, the judge will appoint one based on specific guidelines established within each state.

 

Inventory of Documents and Assets

Individuals should locate their state requirements for inventory of assets, but in general the decedent’s estate planning documents such as the Last Will and Testament, funeral instructions and living trust, should be organized for the estate attorney. In most cases, set aside three years of tax returns and locate a 3 month inventory of all personal account statements, such as checking, savings, cd’s, retirement accounts and brokerage accounts. Stock and bond certificates are required, as well as life insurance policies  and the beneficiary designations for payable on death accounts such as insurance and IRAs, real estate deeds,  titles for automobiles and other recreational vehicles, corporate records, household and utility bills, medical bill and funeral bills.  The Executor must also try and identify all creditors and outstanding debts. A list should be made of what the decedent owned as well as what they owed

Valuation

The next step is determining the value of the estate at the time of death.  For all items listed on the inventory, this is typically the fair market value of the asset at the time of death. Bank and retirement accounts are listed per the most recent statements.  Real estate may be listed at its value as assessed for real estate taxes. For other property, fair market value is normally “the price at which the property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller in the retail market.” Appraisals are often required and the cost of appraisal or advice of accountant in these matters is usually allowable as an administrative cost of the estate.

Publishing Notices

Again, refer to local requirements, but in most cases the Executor will send out formal written notices of the probate to heirs, beneficiaries, and creditors and then provide proof that such notices were sent.

Paying Bills and Taxes

An account is typically set up for the estate and used to pay estate management expenses and pay the decedent’s outstanding debts. Careful records of all transactions must be kept. Typically, Estate taxes must be filed within a specific time frame and it is advisable to seek the experience of an estate tax attorney or CPA, who can help determine state and federal liability

Distributions

After all else is done,  the executor will distribute the decedent’s assets to the beneficiaries named in the  Last Will, or if there was no will, according to decedent’s heirs at law. The estate is closed by filing a “final accounting” with the court. The Executor also files a “closing statement,” that indicates all taxes and debts have also been paid and all property distributed.

©Caring Transitions 2015. Not for reprint without permission.

 

 

What Families Should Know: “What is Probate?”

 Posted by Bradford Kaune on April 7, 2015 at 8:00 AM

What Families Should Know: “What is Probate?”

About

As the nation’s largest professional resource for household relocation and estate liquidation, Caring Transitions is often hired by attorneys, banks and family members to help support the probate process. We are often asked questions about probate and in all cases we recommend our clients seek proper legal advice, as probate laws vary a great deal from state to state. Caring Transitions® is pleased to provide general information that follows and our local office can also recommend other resources to help you manage a loved one’s estate.

Probate is

Probate is a court-supervised process of distributing assets when a deceased individual (decedent), has not established a living trust.  When the distribution of assets is not clearly defined prior to death, families and heirs are left to sort things out through probate courts. The probate process involves locating, defining and determining the value of assets owned by the decedent. It also includes payment of bills and taxes and eventually, the process results in the distribution of remaining assets.

Probate Pros and Cons

Probate can be a lengthy, frustrating and expensive process for families, however establishing a living trust may be equally as costly and complex for those with a number of valuable assets. Probate fees may include the attorney, the executor, filing fees and court costs. The cost for a living trust includes legal and filing fees. Some individuals opt to purchase software or work on the basics through internet companies to reduce their overall costs. It is still recommended you consult an attorney at some point in the process.

Smaller estates may meet the state requirements for “summary” proceedings, which are a simplified and less costly form of probate. Refer to your county court website for more information on applications, forms and Summary Probate restrictions and requirements.

Probate is required

When the decedent does not designate new owners in advance, property typically has to be probated to remove the decedent’s name and legally name the beneficiaries. This applies to property owned solely in the decedent’s name and also when property is held ‘in common” with another owner. As mentioned above, if property was titled to a living trust before the individual died, probate is not necessary.

Bank accounts, insurance policies, IRAs and other such accounts that are “payable on death” may also need to be probated if the decedent never named beneficiaries for the accounts or if the beneficiaries have already died. This is referred to “predeceased beneficiaries.”

Even if the decedent has a Last Will and Testament, probate may be required if any of the property has not been designated or if living beneficiaries were not named.

©Caring Transitions 2015. Not for reprint without permission.

What Families Should Know About: Exceptional Resources

 Posted by Bradford Kaune on April 5, 2015 at 8:00 AM

What Families Should Know About: Exceptional Resources

Without a comprehensive plan, families often have to scramble to identify and qualify the various resources needed to manage an entire home transition. They must locate and hire trusted realtors, movers, downsizing experts, estate sale professionals, consignment shops, packing  material suppliers, junk haulers or dumpster companies, housekeepers, repairmen, home stagers, financial advisors,  attorneys, caregivers, pet sitters, and more!

On the other hand, when families work with a “total solution” organization like Caring Transitions®, they need search no further.  As the comprehensive plan is developed, all resources are identified and included in project communications. And while no company can guarantee another company’s service, all professional partners are vetted and deemed reliable.

Caring Transitions® has taken additional steps to train and screen every employee and has developed estate sale standards that far exceed the rest of the industry. Since many of our clients are older adults moving to assisted living communities, every Caring Transitions® office is also independently certified to support a “senior move” and help mitigate the effects of stress, health and cognitive issues which are common to late life relocations.

In today’s world, however, it is often the technological advances that make a company truly exceptional.  And within the senior relocation and home transition industry, Caring Transitions® is that company.  Caring Transitions® is the only national service provider that offers an in-house online auction platform, as well as electronic estimates for every project, whether that includes sorting, downsizing, organizing, packing, unpacking, pricing, photographing, merchandising, managing a sale, or all of the above.

 

©Caring Transitions 2015. Not for reprint in part or entirety.

What Families Should Know About: Relocation Support

 Posted by Bradford Kaune on April 2, 2015 at 8:00 AM

What Families Should Know About:  Relocation Support

Truly comprehensive relocation solutions look and feel similar to corporate “relo” services.  Think of how a corporation helps support a valued executive. They provide resources, information and services begins well before moving day. Some of the principles that “relo” companies use to govern large projects include:

  1. Planning and logistical arrangements
  2. Use of technology  to promote the exchange of information
  3. Education for the client and their families
  4. Assessment of client goals and preferences
  5. Follow up
  6. Service, standards, measurements and reporting

In much the same way, Caring Transitions® is your personal “relo” company. We provide all the necessary labor, information and services to plan a relocation, evaluate costs, organize, pack, unpack and provide move management and oversight, from start to finish. We also offer in-house professional liquidation services including estate sale, donations and online auction. Professionally licensed services such as transporting household goods and selling real estate are outsourced to vetted partners, and those resources are often managed by your Caring Transitions® team.

As the nation’s largest professional resource for residential relocation, we also have offices in most major markets to help manage your long distance transitions.

©Caring Transitions 2015. Not for reprint in part or entirety.

 

 

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