Friday, March 4, 2016

Overview of Estate Planning

The moment has come where your friend or family member has passed way and you have been elected as the executor of their estate. As the executor, your responsibilities will grow and evolve as you proceed through each step of administering the estate. Your biggest priority is to move the estate forward so it can eventually be closed out and all beneficiaries and creditors receive what is due to them. It is highly advisable to retain a New York Estate Planning Lawyer when you get word you are the executor of an estate.


Probate involves Surrogate's Court supervision during the administration of an estate.  It is essentially the fence between the estate and the beneficiaries/creditors. It gives you, the executor, an added measure of support. Any questions that you may have, you can direct them towards the court. Also, the court and it's staff are somewhat available to provide you with guidelines if needed. To begin the process, you will need to file the decedent's final Last Will and Testament, assuming there is a will. Remember to consult how exactly the probate process works and what issues you may encounter from beginning to end with a New York Estate Planning Lawyer.

The Estate and It's Assets

You will need to identify all of the assets of the estate. Some assets to be aware of are real property such as a house or a condominium, checking accounts, saving accounts, money market securities, stocks, bonds, treasuries, vehicles, and antiques. You may have to consider hiring an appraiser for some of these items as well, or an asset search company if the property of the estate is not readily determinable. Also, when including assets of the estate in the probate petition, remember that a co-op is considered personal property under the laws of every state, not real property. Keep in mind a New York Estate Planning Lawyer can be retained to find the appraisers for you and inform you of any state laws you need to be aware of that can affect the accounting of the estate.


Before the decedent passed away, he or she was paying bills like the rest of us.  They had utility bills,  maintenance, car payments, a mortgage, and so forth.  Well, those bills still need to be paid. As the executor, it is your job to pay them. Do not forget the funeral costs and any attorney fees in case you took the smart route and sought out a New York Estate Planning Lawyer. As an executor, you are entitled to commissions based on the value of the estate. The commissions vary based on the property you distribute as well. Once the expenses are paid, and you receive the green light from the Surrogate's Court, you can proceed with disbursing what is due to the heirs. There is a specific order involved. Also, be sure to seek out guidance when it is not so clear as to how you can divide the monies.


Yeah, taxes are always inevitable. If estate tax is required to be remitted, Form 706, United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return, has to be used. If the estate is earning money such as rental property, Form 1041, Estate and Trust Income Tax Return, has to be filed. Let's say the decedent passed away in April 2015, Form 1040, Income Tax Return, has be to filed for the follow periods: All of 2014 because it was due on April 15, 2015, and then a separate Form 1040 on April 2016 to cover the periods of January 2015- April 2015. As the executor, you have quite a lot of work cut out for you. Bare in mind that this can all be simplified if you decide to retain a team of professionals to assist you. An Enrolled Agent, a CPA, and a New York Estate & Trust Lawyer can be of great use in filing taxes. With an Estate and Trust Lawyer, you also have a professional by your side who understands all the nuances of Surrogate's Court, Estate Administration, and Estate Taxation.

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