Probate & Trust Administration – What to Do First

Have you been named the executor of someone’s estate or the Trustee of a Trust? This is a very important role and the appointment reflects their trust and faith in you to follow their wishes.

There are a number of details and important deadlines. Immediately following the death of the estate owner or trust grantor, executors/trustees should:

Secure tangible property.  It’s amazing how many things “walk away” from a decedent’s home right after they die.  Someone may feel that Aunt Betty would have “wanted” them to have the silver collection, so they just take it.  So it is important that executors secure all tangible property – especially if that property may require an appraisal – so they can plan for the distribution of the property as outlined in the decedent’s will.

Talk with your attorney.  Schedule a Trust & Estate Administration Session with Jill Gregory to receive the guidance you need to properly administer the estate.  Any fees incurred will be paid out of the estate, not your pocket.  The advice you get will be invaluable.

Here are some actions which estate executors may need to take to properly administer the estate:

1. Lodge the Will with the court.  You must lodge the original will with the probate court.  If there is no will and no trust, the heirs must petition the court to be appointed administrator.

2.  Inventory the assets.  You will need to compile a list of everything the decedent owned and if a probate is required provide that list to the probate court.

3.  Determine if a Probate is necessary or advisable.

4.  File tax returns.  You must file a final income tax return for the decedent.  If the estate has any assets that earn interest, you must file an income tax return for the estate.  A federal estate tax return if required must be filed within nine months of the date of death.

5.  Distribute property.  After any creditor claims are satisfied and bills paid, you will need to distribute the remaining property to heirs.

6.  File a final account.  You must file a final account with the probate court in order to close out the estate.


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The content is sourced from Personal Family Lawyer® for use by Personal Family Lawyer® firms, a source believed to be providing accurate information. This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal, or investment advice. If you are seeking legal advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material.