Estate Administration – What is Involved?
When a Person Dies – What Comes Next?
When a family member or friend dies we naturally wonder – “What comes next?” “What comes next?” is pretty much of a mystery to most individuals.
Sometimes an estate administration through the courts can be avoided. Some of the ways it can be avoided are:
1) Designating beneficiaries for life insurance, investment accounts, and retirement plan accounts.
2) Using joint and survivorship account registrations for bank accounts and brokerage accounts.
3) The decedent has created and fully funded a trust during their lifetime.
However, if the decedent dies and the above “probate avoidance” techniques are not employed, it becomes necessary to initiate a probate proceeding through an appropriate court. Regardless of what means are used to transfer the decedent’s assets to the appropriate beneficiaries, there are three basic steps to be undertaken following a person’s death. These steps are:
1) The decedent’s assets must be inventoried and valued. This is essential for tax purposes and for distribution purposes.
2) The decedent’s legitimate financial obligations must be satisfied by payment or agreement. This is necessary for the beneficiaries to get a clear title to any assets that are ultimately distributed to them.
3) After the first and second steps have been taken, the decedent’s assets are transferred to those persons named as beneficiaries in the decedent’s Will or trust.
Of course, getting from step 1 to step 3 requires a fair amount of paperwork. Some of that paperwork can be accomplished by a competent lay person. However, the not-so-simple paperwork requires the services of an attorney well-versed in estate administration proceedings and the related areas of taxation. Arizona Estate & Trust Law is well-qualified to assist clients in all types of estate administration proceedings.