Read an Excerpt
Excerpt from the Introduction of The Complete Executor's Guidebook
The Complete Executor's Guidebook is an instructional guide for anyone administering and managing an estate. Regardless of whether the decedent left a will or a trust, or died without making any estate planning decisions, this book provides step-by-step instructions, checklists, and resource information. If it is determined that the estate must go through court procedures, the book provides a simple-to-follow explanation for navigating through the probate process. In addition, it discusses the many nonlegal and personal issues you must address when representing the survivors of an estate.
The Complete Executor's Guidebook also helps you avoid what could become very costly mistakes for the estate, as well as minimize or eliminate your personal exposure as the representative of the estate. From preplanning discussions with your loved one, to your role at the time of death, and concluding with the closing of the estate, the book will provide both legal and emotional support at a time when it isneeded the most. Finally, it provides a discussion of the ways of avoiding probate.
The frequently asked questions section starting on page xix acts as a brief introduction to immediate issues. After these, the book is divided into two parts.
PART ONE: PREPLANNING AND TRANSITION
Chapter 1 provides an overview of estate administration and translates the often misunderstood legal terminology into everyday language.
Chapter 2 explains what is expected of you as the representative of the estate so that you can decide if you wish to accept your appointment.
If you have been informed, prior to someone's passing, that you have been appointed as the representative of that person's estate, Chapter 3 discusses conversations you should have with your loved one so that you will be better prepared to assume your role upon his or her passing.
If death is imminent, you may be called upon to make legal decisions on behalf of your loved one. Chapter 4 discusses powers of attorney, alternative living arrangements, and hospice care.
Chapter 5 discusses the most immediate issues that must be addressed at the time of passing, including funeral arrangements and the placement of children.
Chapter 6 discusses managing the immediate needs of the survivors at the time of passing, as well as how it is important for you to remain focused on your role and not allow others' personal agendas to interfere with your responsibilities.
Chapter 7 discusses who must be notified upon the deceased's passing and the steps you must take in preparation for commencing a probate.
PART TWO: ESTATE ADMINISTRATION
Chapter 8 discusses locating the will and other estate planning documents, as well as organizing, itemizing, and categorizing the assets of an estate.
Chapter 9 takes you step by step through the formal probate process and concludes with your court appointment as representative of the estate. It also discusses will contests.
Chapter 10 discusses all the steps required in completing a formal probate, including filing reports with the court, notifying creditors, and distributing assets.
If a person leaves an estate but does not leave a will, you may wonder how his or her property is divided. Chapter 11 discusses the laws of intestate succession.
Even if there is a will, it may be subject to interpretation or may be unenforceable. These matters are discussed in Chapter 12.
Chapter 13 discusses when a formal probate is not required and how the assets can be transferred by affidavit or an informal probate process.
Chapter 14 provides a complete discussion of the management of both the assets and liabilities of an estate, including when assets need to be sold and invested. Also, it discusses which bills must be paid even though the estate has not closed.
The loss of a loved one can create an immediate financial hardship for the survivors. Chapter 15 discusses obtaining benefits for the estate.
Chapter 16 discusses the decedent's personal tax liability as well as whether the estate will owe federal and estate taxes.
Chapter 17 discusses your legal rights to receive compensation from the estate for performing your role as the representative of the estate.
Chapter 18 provides a discussion of your role as an advisor to the estate's survivors, who may seek your recommendations for avoiding probate. In addition, it provides information for revising the survivor's estate planning documents as a result of the loss of the decedent.
Chapter 19 provides an overview of revocable living trusts and how to administer a trust after the trustor's passing.
Chapter 20 discusses the role of an attorney in representing an estate. It discusses when an attorney may be necessary. It also provides practical information to assist you in finding the right attorney.
Chapter 21 is my favorite chapter. Though very brief, it makes sense of the reason why books on estate administration are ever written. It provides information for saying thanks to your loved one.
Following Chapter 21 is a glossary of the most commonly used legal terms.
Appendices A - G include reference material, worksheets, questionnaires, and sample forms.