Your Loved One Has Passed. Now What?

August 25, 2013


Your loved one has passed and their assets need to be handled. Now what?

This is a tremendously difficult time for most people. You are grieving and overwhelmed by the task before you. In order to evaluate what needs to be done, several questions must first be asked. Did the decedent leave behind a will? Who has the original? Was it properly executed? Is anyone going to object to the probate of that will? Who is going to petition the court for authority to distribute the assets of the estate? If there was a will, it will designate someone to act as executor to probate the will. If there is no will, then someone will have to petition the court to be appointed to administer the estate. Either way, is this person willing to take on the various duties and responsibilities of such a fiduciary role?

Once appointed by the court, the fiduciary (whether as executor or administrator) is required to (among other things):

1. Inventory the decedent's assets and place them under his/her control;

2. Obtain appraisals if needed;

3. Open an estate account;

4. Determine if creditor's claims are valid;

5. Pay valid debts and expenses in the proper order of priority;

6. Keep clear financial records of all money paid in and out;

7. Consult with an accountant and file decedent's final personal and estate tax returns if, where, and when required;

8. Distribute the balance of the estate assets;

9. Prepare an accounting of the estate, if required.

Every estate is unique. Some raise issues of spousal election, others involve trusts and trustees, and yet others require a guardian to be appointed to protect interested parties who may be minors or under a disability.

To best evaluate your loved one's estate, consult with an estate attorney and discuss the best way to proceed.







Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. All information posted is general advice only, based upon the rules of NYS, and is not intended to be a substitute for personal legal advice. Although information provided here was accurate as of the date of posting, laws change frequently and rules in other jurisdictions may differ. Therefore, readers should not rely upon these postings but should consult an attorney to discuss their specific factual situation.

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