Probate involves the legal process that transfers title of property from the estate of a deceased person to his or her intended heirs. If the decedent left a Will, it must be proven valid by the probate court before the assets can be distributed. If the decedent left no will, state statutes dictate how the estate should be administered. The decedent may also have established a trust that requires specialized attention.
If you’ve been named as personal representative or executor for the estate of a friend or family member, or state statute allows for you to administrator the estate, you’re responsible for ensuring that the estate is handled according to very specific state statutes and federal tax laws, which sometimes prove complicated to interpret. For example, you must notify interested parties of the proceedings and publish notice of your appointment so that estate creditors may contact you regarding claims against the estate.
Competent estate planning prior to death will greatly lessen the possible difficulties of safeguarding the estate. However, as most deaths are unexpected, it is not unusual for there to be lack of proper estate and tax planning. Your commitments to the estate and the demands on your time will vary according to the complexity of the assets and liabilities involved, but all probate cases necessitate some specific duties.
Accountings and inventory of the estate’s assets must be completed, a procedure which sometimes entails obtaining professional valuations. If you must file an estate tax return, the IRS most likely will then audit, as the return symbolizes the final time the IRS will ever have a chance to collect taxes from the decedents. Many accountants, even CPAs, are reluctant to prepare such returns due to the intricacies involved.
Sometimes interested parties will dispute the administration, including Will provisions, and the process turns litigious. Inept or inadequate administration can lead to personal liability for you. Such difficulties can result in stress added to the anxiety you’re already experiencing related to the loss of your loved one.
Probate proceedings can therefore become extended, complicated, and time-consuming for the personal representative.
As a tax boutique, we are uniquely qualified to assist those facing probate issues. From relatively simple probate proceedings to preparing estate taxes, we understand the legal ramifications of probate and estate administration. Our team of tax professionals will provide you with knowledgeable advice, so that you can make informed decisions regarding the estate’s assets and liabilities. If estate issues must be litigated, we will offer counsel based on experience and understanding of the law and the legal process.
If you’ve been appointed to represent an estate, call Law Offices of Christy Lee, P.C. Our assistance with the legal proceedings will allow you to focus on issues far more important – such as dealing with the loss of your loved one.