Understanding Estate Planning

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What Are Excise and Local Income Taxes for Estates and Trusts?

If the estate or trust that you are administering owns vehicles of transportation, such as planes, boats, and automobiles, you may have to pay a yearly [more…]

What Are Estate and Trust State Intangible and Real Estate Taxes?

Instead of income taxes, some states have intangible taxes on assets such as stocks and bonds. If you are administering an estate or trust, check to see whether your decedent’s state has intangibles taxes [more…]

What Are Estate and Trust Income Taxes?

If an estate or trust earns income, that income may be subject to income taxes. Follow the federal government criteria for determining whether your estate, simple trust, or complex trust earned enough [more…]

Don’t Take Unsanctioned Shortcuts for an Estate or Trust

Treat your job as an executor, administrator, or trustee with care and act reasonably and responsibly. Realize that this job is a major, and often time-consuming, commitment to fulfill the wishes of the [more…]

Exercise Good Fiduciary Judgment for an Estate or Trust

As the executor or trustee, it is crucial that you use good fiduciary judgment. Seek sound professional advice, invest the estate or trust assets wisely, and pay beneficiaries and all bills on time. Be [more…]

How to Locate a Decedent’s Assets through Tax Returns

For an estate executor in the process of locating a decedent’s assets, the decedent’s prior tax returns may be a useful resource. These tax returns (and the supporting documentation) provide information [more…]

How to Locate a Decedent's Assets in Safes and Computer Files

When marshalling a decedent’s assets, check any safe-deposit boxes in the decedent’s name and go through his or her computer files. There may be valuable assets or important documentation in the decedent’s [more…]

How to Locate a Decedent's Hidden Assets

Going through a decedent’s personal papers and hiding places may seem invasive, but it is necessary for an estate’s executor to conduct a search for all of the decedent’s assets, including hidden assets [more…]

How to Research a Potential Estate Attorney’s Credentials

When choosing an attorney to assist with your estate or trust, you should research credentials and conduct interviews. Check the Web site of the firm at which the estate lawyer is employed. Also check [more…]

How to Calculate Interest and Dividends for a Decedent, Estate, or Trust

When filing Form 1040 or Form 1041, your first task is to determine how much income the taxpayer (whether trust, estate or decedent) earned. Two of the main types of income you’ll have to deal with are [more…]

How to Pay a Trust's Expenses

In addition to making payments to the beneficiaries, as trustee, you’re also responsible for paying the expenses you incur in administering the trust. The primary expenses include trustee’s fees, investment [more…]

How to List a Decedent's Large Assets

When marshalling — locating and listing — a decedent’s assets, an estate administrator might begin with the largest assets: real estate and vehicles. Large assets will often be easy to find, but it is [more…]

How to List and Value a Decedent’s Small Businesses

If a decedent owned a small business, in full or in part, the estate’s executor needs to value that small business and decide whether to continue the business or sell it. Use the decedent’s tax return [more…]

Write a New Property Sale Agreement for an Estate

If you are administering an estate in which the decedent was in the middle of a property transfer at the time of death, cancel the old purchase and sale agreement. Then write a new agreement in which the [more…]

What Is the Federal Estate Tax?

The federal estate tax applies to large estates. The year of the decedent’s death determines the qualifying value of the estate. If you are administering an estates that qualifies, you must complete Form [more…]

Calculate Decedent, Estate, or Trust Business Income and Capital Gains and Losses

In order to file Form 1040 or Form 1041, you will need to determine how much business income, if any, the taxpayer (whether trust, estate or decedent) earned, and calculate capital gains and losses. The [more…]

What Fees Do Estate and Trust Attorneys Charge?

Estates and trust attorneys typically charge clients in one of three ways: hourly fee, flat fee, or contingency fee. In addition to the attorney’s regular fees, you should expect to be billed for miscellaneous [more…]

How to Find an Appraiser for Your Estate or Trust

As an executor or trustee, you may need an appraiser to estimate the value of the assets of the decedent’s estate. You will need to provide asset valuations on Form 706, and you will need to have official [more…]

How to Find Resources for Administering an Estate or Trust on Your Own

If you decide to administer an estate or trust on your own, there are important resources you should consult concerning tax issues, tax forms, probate courts, and more. Be sure to consult the necessary [more…]

How to Deduct Administration Expenses for a Decedent, Estate, or Trust

When filing Form 1040 or Form 1041 for a decedent, estate, or trust, you must determine how to deduct administration fees. Deductions for attorney, accountant, and preparer fees are limited on Schedule [more…]

Charitable Deductions for a Decedent, Estate, or Trust

An estate administrator can only give money from an estate or trust to charity if the decedent’s will (or the trust instrument) explicitly instructs it. Because this rule is absolute, charitable deductions [more…]

How to Find the Estate Planning Documents

Locating estate planning documents is one of the estate administrator’s most important tasks. The decedent’s will, trust agreements and amendments, letters of intent, and any documentation on assets with [more…]

How Death Changes the Decedent’s Assets

Upon death, any assets owned by only by the decedent are frozen, or inaccessible, until an executor of his or her estate is named. Exceptions can be made if an estate is in urgent need of funds before [more…]

How to Handle the Death Certificate of the Estate’s Decedent

A death certificate is an essential document for an estate administrator. Without proof that the decedent actually died, most of the tasks of an administrator would be impossible. But be aware that this [more…]

Estate Planning for Special Situations

Even the most orderly estate plans can fall victim to some unforeseen event. To put together a thorough estate plan, take a look at situations that may occur and find out the necessary information for [more…]


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