What is Probate?
Probate is the official proving and recording of the will as the authentic and valid last will and testament of the deceased. This is done in the Probate Division of the Circuit Court in the city or county in which the decedent lived at the time of death.
Assets that are not otherwise disposed of (such as trust assets, retirement accounts, transfer on death, or payable on death assets) are administered by an Executor or Administrator of an Estate. An Executor is a person appointed under a Will to administer an estate. An Administrator is someone selected by statute or the court. Generally, their duties are the same, regardless of the title.
The Executor or Administrator of an Estate Performs a Number of Services
- “Marshalling” (gathering or collecting) property of the deceased person;
- Investing or otherwise safeguarding the property;
- Prepare and File the Inventory of the Deceased’s assets;
- Collect any income and pay debts and expenses of the Estate;
- Make important decisions regarding taxes and distributions, including making tax elections and timing distributions properly;
- Prepare and file all required tax returns, including the decedent’s last tax return, the Estate’s income tax return and potential an Estate Tax Return if the estate is taxable or the Executor or Administrator wants to elect “Portability” of the Deceased’s Estate Tax Exemption, or other tax reasons;
- Payment of all Taxes and/or provision of K-1s to beneficiaries;
- Distribution of the Remaining Assets to those entitled to them;
- Drafting and Obtaining Refunding Bonds, Receipts and Releases;
- Prepare and File one or more Accountings with the Commissioner of Accounts;
- Performing all other duties necessary to settle an estate.
Do Not Delay in the Estate Planning Process
The estate planning and probate process can be complex and dependent upon the proper procedure to ensure that everything is settled per the wishes of the deceased. Often times there are important questions unanswered or consequential points of interest that are unaccounted, and when these circumstances arise it can devolve into a stressful situation that could’ve otherwise been avoided. We strongly recommend that people not delay in beginning this important process.