The Executor's Guide: Settling A Loved One's Estate or Trust

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Settling an estate can be like moving through a maze -- let The Executor's Guide lead the way.

If you're faced with wrapping up the affairs of a loved one who has died, you may feel overwhelmed by all the work ahead -- especially when you're grieving. But with the right ...
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Overview

Settling an estate can be like moving through a maze -- let The Executor's Guide lead the way.

If you're faced with wrapping up the affairs of a loved one who has died, you may feel overwhelmed by all the work ahead -- especially when you're grieving. But with the right legal and practical information, you can do it.

The Executor's Guide will help you get organized and make progress one step at a time, by assisting you in navigating an unfamiliar land of legal procedures and terminology. It explains how to:

  • prepare for the job of executor or trustee
  • take your first steps
  • claim life insurance, Social Security and other benefits
  • make sense of a will
  • what to do if there is no will
  • determine whether probate is necessary
  • care for children and their property
  • file taxes
  • deal with family members
  • handle trusts
  • look up your state's laws
  • work with lawyers, appraisers, accountants and other experts

    The 3rd edition contains updated tables outlining key points of each state's laws, the latest information on estate taxes and worksheets that help you stay organized and on track.
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Editorial Reviews

Kiplinger's Retirement Report
Covers the gamut of estate chores and helps you get through them.
Miami Herald
Explains how to find state-specific information, and an appendix sorts legalities by state.
Reference & Research Book News
Provides a guide for executors and trustees, describing legal procedures and terminology, what to expect, decisions that will need to be made, and questions to ask.
Kiplinger's Retirement Report
"Covers the gamut of estate chores and helps you get through them."
Miami Herald
"Explains how to find state-specific information, and an appendix sorts legalities by state."
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781413306552
  • Publisher: NOLO
  • Publication date: 2/29/2008
  • Edition description: Third Edition
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 507
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Randolph earned her law degree from the Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of The Executor's Guide: Settling Your Loved One's Estate or Trust, 8 Ways to Avoid Probate, Every Dog's Legal Guide: A Must-Have Book for Your Owner, and Deeds for California Real Estate. She is also a coauthor of the legal manual for Quicken WillMaker Plus. She has been a guest on The Today Show and has been interviewed by many publications, including the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and more. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her family.
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Table of Contents

Part I: Getting Ready
1. Overview
A. What Executors Do
B. What Trustees Do
C. How Hard Will It Be?
D. Emotional Concerns
E. How This Book Can Help

2. If You're Asked to Be an Executor or Trustee
A. Executor or Trustee?
B. The Executor's Role: An Overview
C. The Successor Trustee's Role: An Overview
D. Should You Accept the Job?
E. Making the Job Manageable

Part II: First Steps
3. The First Week
A. Organ, Tissue, and Body Donation
B. Physician's Certification and Death Certificate
C. Autopsy
D. Burial or Cremation
E. Funerals and Memorial Services
F. Other Tasks During the First Few Days

4. The First Month
A. Set Up a Filing System
B. Order Copies of the Death Certificate
C. Find the Will
D. Find Other Documents That Leave Property
E. Send Notifications of the Death
F. Keep Property Secure
G. Sort Through Personal Belongings

5. Claiming Life Insurance, Social Security, and Other Benefits
A. Life Insurance and Annuity Proceeds
B. Social Security Benefits
C. Pensions
D. Veterans Benefits
E. Wages Owed the Deceased Person
F. The Family Allowance
G. Other Possible Benefits and Claims

Part III: Taking Care of the Estate
6. Making Sense of the Will
A. Does the Will Appear Valid?
B. Reading the Will
C. Gifts to Groups of People
D. When to Take a Second Look at the Will

7. If There's No Will
A. Who's in Charge
B. Who Gets What: The Basic Rules
C. Understanding Key Terms
D. If an Heir Has Died
E. Taking Care of Minor Children

8. Taking Inventory
Step 1: Look for Assets
Step 2: Make a List of Assets
Step 3: Estimate the Value
Step 4: Add Up Debts
Step 5: Determine How Title Was Held
9. Managing Assets and Paying Bills
A. Your Legal Duties
B. Keeping Good Records
C. Setting Up an Estate or Trust Bank Account
D. Keeping Tangible Assets Safe
E. Managing Cash Accounts and Investments
F. Paying Claims and Debts
G. Giving Property to Beneficiaries
H. Selling Property
I. Handling a Business

10. Caring for Children and Their Property
A. Immediate Concerns
B. Raising a Child
C. Managing a Child's Property
D. Personal and Practical Issues

11. Taxes
A. Overview
B. The Deceased Person's Income Tax: Form 1040
C. The Estate's Income Tax: Form 1041
D. Income Tax on Trusts
E. Federal Estate Tax
F. State Inheritance and Estate Taxes
G. Other Taxes
H. Beneficiaries and Taxes
I. Typical Situations

Part IV: Transferring Property
12. Property That Doesn't Go Through Probate
A. Common Assets That Don't Go Through Probate
B. Joint Tenancy Property
C. Tenancy by the Entirety Property
D. Community Property
E. Property Held in a Living Trust
F. Real Estate That Qualifies as a Homestead
G. Property That Passes to Immediate Family by Law
H. Salary or Wages
I. Payable-on-Death Bank Accounts
J. Life Insurance Proceeds
K. Individual Retirement Accounts
L. Securities Registered in Transfer-on-Death Form
M. Savings Bonds
N. Vehicles
O. Pension Plan Distributions and Other Death Benefits
P. Real Estate Left by a Transfer-on-Death Deed
Q. Personal Property in "Small Estates"

13. Transferring Joint Tenancy and Other Survivorship Property
A. Real Estate
B. Bank Accounts
C. Securities
D. Vehicles
E. Savings Bonds
F. If Title Wasn't Cleared When the First Joint Tenant Died

14. Transferring Community Property
A. Your Transfer Options
B. Community Property Agreements
C. State Probate Shortcuts
D. When the Second Spouse Dies

15. Claiming Money in Retirement Plans
A. Retirement Plans: The Basics
B. Who's the Beneficiary?
C. If the Surviving Spouse Is the Beneficiary
D. If There Is One Beneficiary, Not the Spouse
E. If There Are Multiple Beneficiaries
F. If a Trust Is the Beneficiary
G. If There Is No "Designated Beneficiary"
H. If the Beneficiary Has Died
I. If No Beneficiary Was Named
J. If the Estate Is the Beneficiary

16. Claiming Payable-on-Death Assets
A. If the Asset Was Co-Owned
B. The Effect of Divorce on POD Beneficiaries
C. How Beneficiaries Can Claim Assets

17. Special Procedures for Small Estates
A. Are You Handling a Small Estate?
B. Claiming Property With Affidavits
C. Using Simplified Probate

18. The Regular Probate Process
A. Common Questions About Probate
B. The Typical Probate Process
C. The Process in Uniform Probate Code States
D. Probate in Another State
E. Disputes During Probate
F. Do You Need a Lawyer?
G. If You Go It Alone: Working With the Court

Part V: Handling Trusts
19. Wrapping Up a Simple Living Trust
A. How Simple Living Trusts Work
B. If You're the Surviving Spouse
C. Who Serves as Successor Trustee
D. The Affidavit of Assumption of Duties
E. What's in the Trust
F. Notifying Beneficiaries
G. Getting Valuable Property Appraised
H. Registering the Trust
I. Debts and Expenses
J. Transferring Trust Property
K. Ending the Trust

20. Managing a Child's Trust
A. How a Child's Trust Works
B. The Trustee's Job
C. Accepting or Declining the Trustee's Job
D. Gathering Trust Property
E. Communicating With Beneficiaries
F. Registering the Trust
G. Investing Trust Property
H. Keeping Good Records
I. Handling Trust Taxes
J. Distributing Property
K. If You Want to Resign
L. Ending the Trust

21. Handling a Bypass (AB) Trust
A. How a Bypass Trust Works
B. The Surviving Spouse's Rights and Duties
C. What's in the Trust
D. Debts and Expenses
E. Getting Valuable Property Appraised
F. Notifying Beneficiaries
G. Registering the Trust
H. Dividing Trust Assets
I. Managing the Bypass Trust Property
J. Tax Returns for the Bypass Trust

Part VI: Getting More Help
22. Finding More Information
A. Libraries
B. The Internet
C. Finding Forms
D. Finding Definitions
E. Researching Specific Questions

23. Lawyers and Other Experts
A. When to Get Help
B. Deciding What You Want From a Lawyer
C. Finding a Lawyer
D. Choosing a Lawyer
E. Working With a Lawyer
F. Paying a Lawyer
G. Problems With Your Lawyer

Glossary
Appendix: State Information
Index
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