Probate and Estate Administration
If a friend or loved one has named you as the Executor of their Estate or the Trustee of their Trust, you might feel both honored and overwhelmed. The fiduciary of an Estate has many duties; some are prescribed by law, some are found in the Will or Trust Agreement, and others are created by necessity and practical considerations. The Executor and the Trustee must find a way to navigate local rules of court, state and federal tax bureaucracies, banking and financial paperwork, and often complex family dynamics. It is common for individuals with business or legal expertise in areas other than Estate Administration to be unsure what practical and procedural steps they need to take.
Responsibilities of Executors and Trustees
Executors and Trustees are sometimes faced with tough decisions that can affect the lives of heirs and beneficiaries long after the administration of an Estate has ended. You may need help determining whether an asset is a part of the decedent’s probate estate or revocable living trust. You may need to determine when the best time is to sell a decedent’s house. You may have to decide between the conflicting claims of heirs or creditors. You may have to explain procedural delays to people who are impatient to receive money.
The Executor is responsible for the “marshaling of assets,” or pulling together what a decedent owned. If you have never administered an Estate before, you may not know where to look to find all of the assets. In Virginia, and many other jurisdictions, the Executor must file an accounting with the court that shows the assets, disbursements, and distributions of the Estate.
The Executor (or the Trustee if there is no Executor) is responsible for filing the final tax returns of the decedent. Depending on the assets in the Estate or Trust, this may involve final tax returns for the deceased individual, as well as a federal estate tax return. Tax issues can become more complex if a decedent owned assets in multiple jurisdictions. The Executor could become personally liable for taxes or other unpaid debts if the Executor does not handle these matters properly.
Contact Michael Logan at (703) 535-5392 to answer your Estate and Trust Administration questions or to schedule a consultation.