Estate Planning

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How to Hire a Tax Professional for Your Estate or Trust

In the process of administering the estate or trust, you may find that the tax and accounting requirements are beyond what you’re happy or comfortable doing. If this describes you, having a tax professional [more…]

Who Should Receive Notification when the Estate Owner Dies?

As executor, you may feel that your job is primarily to write letters because you need to notify seemingly everyone and their uncle of the decedent’s death. Some entities and individuals may be more important [more…]

How to Determine a Decedent's Domicile

Knowing where the decedent’s domicile (where the decedent had his or her primary residence) was at date of death is key when figuring out where you must probate the assets and what state you must pay taxes [more…]

Executor's Duty: Informing Surviving Spouse of Decision Rights

Surviving spouses may have some important rights to collect on and decisions to make with regard to the will and the decedent’s estate. There are a few important rights, allowances, and decisions the surviving [more…]

How to Collect a Decedent's Life and Loan Insurance Proceeds

Many people carry life insurance — your job as executor is to find all the policies and collect the proceeds, or at least advise the beneficiary to file a claim. Your search of the decedent’s papers may [more…]

How to Pay the Decedent's Debts and When to Declare Insolvency

As executor, you should have all the decedent’s bills (or be in the process of collecting them). One of your first tasks is to pay all administration expenses and legitimate debts of the decedent before [more…]

Estate Tax Closing Letters and Real Estate Releases of Lien

If you filed a Form 706 United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return, and/or a state estate or inheritance tax return, you need estate [more…]

How to Fund a Trust with Life Insurance

A life insurance policy can fund a trust that eventually creates some available cash for future expenditures, such as anticipated estate taxes. Life insurance policies come in many flavors, and they guarantee [more…]

Invest for a Trust with Social Responsibility and Political Awareness

As trustee, you have the ultimate choice of investments, and you can choose based on your philosophy of life. Socially responsible investing has been around for a long time, beginning with the Quakers [more…]

How to Create a Filing System for a Trust

Organization is the key, and no more so than when you’re a trustee. The grantor has relied on you to handle the trust’s assets competently. When you’re organized, you know where the trust’s important documents [more…]

How to Prepare a Trust's Initial Inventory

The starting point for any trust is the property funding it. This property is listed on the trust’s initial inventory (that is, a list you create of all the initial assets of the trust), where you show [more…]

How to Compile Records of Trust Transactions

After you create an initial inventory, you can begin tracking the activity in the trust account. Just like maintaining a running balance in your own checkbook, tracking this basic information helps in [more…]

How to Complete Schedule J for Estate Form 706

All the Form 706 schedules up to Schedule J deal with the decedent’s assets. With Schedule J: Funeral Expenses and Expenses Incurred in Administering Property Subject to Claims [more…]

How to Prepare to File Tax Returns for a Decedent, Estate, or Trust

Thinking about income taxes may not be high on your list of priorities as you begin administering an estate or trust, but it will soon become a main focus of your administration, whether you’re thrilled [more…]

How to Avoid Double-Dipping Deductions for a Decedent, Estate, or Trust

You may have realized that many of the deductions available on the Form 706 look familiar, and you may be wondering if you can have it both ways, deducting them the first time on the [more…]

How to Compute Taxes for a Decedent, Estate, or Trust

No matter which tax return you’re preparing (the decedent’s personal return or one for an estate or trust), you have to calculate the tax after you figure out the income and the deductions. If you’re working [more…]

Form 1041 Questions for a Trust or Estate

If you’re preparing Form 1041, you’re almost done. All that’s left is to answer some questions at the bottom of page 2. Some of these questions are easy and obvious, but questions 3 and 4 concerning foreign [more…]

Schedule K-1 for Estates and Trusts: Deductions and Credits

In addition to allowing you to split each income distribution into all its component parts, Schedule K-1 also gives the estate income beneficiary all the other tax attributes that can pass through the [more…]

How to Appraise an Estates Intangible Assets

Although valuing tangible property may give you scope for some creative research, calculating the value of an estate’s intangible property, those bank and brokerage accounts, and any stocks or bonds that [more…]

How to Divide Income and Deductions between the Decedent and the Estate

Just because an employer, bank, brokerage firm, or other payer continues making payments to the decedent doesn’t necessarily mean that’s whose tax return they should go. As the administrator of the estate [more…]

How to Complete Schedule M for Estate Form 706

If your decedent left a surviving spouse, you may have a whopper of a deduction available to you, which you report on Schedule M: Bequests, etc. to surviving spouse. [more…]

How to Determine Tax Credits for an Estate or Trust

After you put the sum of lines 1a through 1c on Schedule G, line d, you’re ready to see whether you can reduce your tax with tax credits. Tax credits are dollar-for-dollar amounts that you subtract from [more…]

How to Handle Organ Donation and Autopsy Decisions when Someone Dies

As soon as someone dies, make sure that you immediately familiarize yourself with the organ donation and autopsy wishes of the deceased. Check to see whether the decedent had a notation on his or her driver’s [more…]

How to Identify the People Associated with a Trust

The grantor of the trust has indeed set the stage for his or her wishes to be played out under the trust instrument. As trustee, identifying the players is one of your important first steps because you [more…]

How to Inform Beneficiaries of the Right to Disclaim

Beneficiaries may elect to disclaim, or refuse, an interest in the decedent’s estate that they don’t want to accept. Often beneficiaries exercise their right to disclaim for tax reasons. With some disclaimers [more…]


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