As a person’s life progresses and the difficulties that can arise do, they are often motivated into creating an estate plan, but that is not necessarily the end of the story, according to the Brentwood Home Page in “The will and estate plan are done, what now?”
Once your Will and estate plan are done, the planning process does not stop, even in the face of an urgent situation. There are still tasks that must be done, and perhaps the most important one of all is talking with family members about the plan and what your wishes are.
Many families get started on their estate plan in the attorney’s office, discussing what they want to happen to their assets, who their executor should be and how they want their end-of-life decisions to be made. However, they find it difficult to discuss those issues with their children, and as a result, when the first parent passes, the only one who knows what the plan is (and where it is) is the surviving spouse.
Will the adult children know where to find the documents if the surviving spouse is so bereft that he or she is not functioning well? Will the surviving spouse or the children know what the next steps should be? Will the person who was designated the executor know that this is their role?
Once you have completed your estate plan, do not leave out this critical next step. The executor and those left when you (or your spouse) have passed have a big job ahead of them, and you do not want to make it harder.
It can take months or sometimes years to settle an estate. Here are a few facts to be aware of:
- Wills and estate plans are not filed with the court before death. The estate planning attorney may have a copy, but the court will want the original documents.
- The executor will need original death certificates.
- An attorney, possibly the same one who created the estate plan, should guide you through the settlement of the estate.
- Once the Will is probated and the executor is appointed, the beneficiaries will need to be named and creditors notified.
- The decedent’s property will need to be managed. This can be tricky if he or she owned a business, rental properties or other assets that require day-to-day management.
- Tax returns must be filed.
The administration of an estate is not a simple process, and many people to handle it without professional assistance. However, that is not a good idea.
An experienced estate planning and estate administration attorney can advise you on creating an estate plan that suits your unique situation, and then can help your heirs implement your plan after your death.
Reference: Brentwood Home Page (Oct. 31, 2018) “The will and estate plan are done, what now?”