Understanding Estate Planning

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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…]

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…]

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 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 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…]

How to Locate a Decedent's Assets through the Mail

As you read the decedent’s mail, you may find references to many assets, including bank accounts (from bank statements), the safe deposit box (from any rental bills), real estate [more…]

How to List a Decedent's Household Property

As executor, you’ll need to consider all the stuff you find in the decedent’s residence(s). Everything the decedent owned outright on his or her date of death is now under your care as executor; you’re [more…]

Roll an Estate’s Pension Plan or IRA to the Heirs

When you’re trying to figure out exactly how much the estate owns, you may be tempted to liquidate everything into cash. Although this thinking may work sometimes, don’t do it with any pension plan, IRA [more…]

What Is State Inheritance or Estate Tax?

Just as many states impose an income tax, many also impose estate or inheritance taxes. Most states used to calculate these taxes based on a credit on the federal [more…]

How to Invest in Bonds for a Trust

Bonds are pieces of loans, packaged by a corporation or a government as an investment product. When you purchase a bond, you’re purchasing a piece of someone else’s debt. In exchange for the money you’re [more…]

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