Understanding Estate Planning

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How to Arrange the Decedent's Funeral as Estate Executor

As executor of an estate, you may need to arrange the decedent's funeral. From the time of the person's death, you may make sensitive decisions about arranging the funeral and choosing a cemetery. Take [more…]

Part of the Series: Coping with Death: 9 Ways to Deal with Funerals, Feelings, and Faith

How to Hire an Investment Advisor for Your Estate or Trust

Very often, executors, administrators, and trustees are thrust into situations for which they have no preparation and no experience. You may find yourself in this category as your attempt, for example, [more…]

How to Recognize Estate or Trust Malpractice

Everyone makes mistakes. When determining if a mistake with your estate or trust is malpractice, it’s the nature of the error and what steps are taken to rectify it that counts. [more…]

How to Take Small Estate Shortcuts for a Probate Estate

If your decedent’s probate estate (assets in his or her name alone, payable to the estate, or held jointly for convenience only) is of limited size, it may qualify for one of several small estate procedures [more…]

How to Perform Traditional Probate Proceedings

In many states, traditional probate proceedings can be supervised or unsupervised, and unsupervised can be formal or informal. Consult with an attorney experienced in probate matters in your state if there [more…]

How to Find a Decedent’s Digital Assets and Important Info

If your decedent owned a computer or other electronic device, it’s an important resource for sorting out what the decedent owned. If the decedent and/or his estate planner were really on top of things, [more…]

How to Complete Part 6 of Estate Form 706

Part 6 of Form 706 is where you elect Portability of Deceased Spousal Unused Exclusion (DSUE) for the estate. This list details what do for each section of Part 6: [more…]

Does Your Estate Qualify for the Deceased Spousal Unused Exclusion (DSUE)?

As of January 1, 2011, one spouse can elect to transfer any unused exclusion amount to the surviving spouse. So, if your decedent doesn’t have a taxable estate but the surviving spouse has or may have [more…]

How to Time Payments In and Out of an Estate

After death, the rules governing receipt of income in an estate and the payment of its expenses loosen up somewhat. It’s not as though the electric company can threaten the decedent with shutting off the [more…]

How to Invest an Estate to Minimize Income Taxes

Not all estate investments are created equal, and certainly not in their treatment by Congress and the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). There are many types of investments, such as wages, rental income, deferred [more…]

Where to Pay State Income Taxes on an Estate

There are state-specific rules regarding where you pay income tax on the income in an estate or trust. The obvious one is that you file, and pay taxes, in the state where the estate or trust is resident [more…]

What You Should Know about the Unearned Income Medicare Contribution (UIMC) Tax to Manage an Estate

Effective January 1, 2013, there is an additional 3.8 percent tax on investment income in estates and trusts, thanks to provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010. Now, to be [more…]

How to Create Nominee Form 1099s for an Estate

Sometimes, even when the trust or estate doesn’t have to file Form 1041, you still receive tax information from other sources. When you won’t be preparing a [more…]

What You Should Do Immediately after Your Appointment as Executor of an Estate

Handling an estate can be confusing and overwhelming. After you’ve been appointed as executor, there are some important first steps every executor should take to make things as simple as possible. [more…]

What Taxes Might an Estate Need to Pay?

Because federal and state tax authorities are much more concerned with how much of the decedent’s property they can tax, they allow for a much broader definition of what the decedent owned at the time [more…]

How to Find an Estate or Trust Attorney

When searching for an attorney to help you with your estate or trust, you may be wondering, where’s the best place to look? Unfortunately, you can’t rub a magic lamp and ask for an attorney to appear, [more…]

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…]

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 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…]

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