Chapter 1: Overview of Probate and the Executor Role
What Is Probate and How Is it Commenced?
Letters of Authority
Why Are Letters of Authority Necessary?
Are Letters of Authority Always Needed?
Persons Entitled to Apply for Letters of Authority
Restrictions on Who Can Be an Executor
Getting Appointed & What to Do Next
How Long Does Probate Take?
How Much Will Probate Cost?
Do You Need a Lawyer?
Chapter 2: Duties and Responsibilities of Executors
Responsibilities of an Executor
General Duties of an Executor
Fiduciary Duties of an Executor
Powers of an Executor
Protections for the Executor from Liability
Payment of Compensation to Executors
Should You Accept Your Appointment as Executor?
What to Expect When Appointed
Resigning After Accepting the Appointment
Declining to Act as Executor
Chapter 3: The Executor’s Duties: What to Do Immediately
What to Do If Death Occurs at Home
Organize Anatomic Gifts
Obtain Copies of the Death Certificate
Review Letter of Instruction
Locate the Will and Other Important Papers
Arrange Funeral and/or Memorial Service
Chapter 4: Making Sense of the Will and What to Do if There isn’t One
Determining Whether a Will Is Valid
Age of Majority
Format of a Will
Signing of a Will
Witnessing a Will
Notarizing a Will
Reading of the Will
Notifying Beneficiaries and Others
Appointment of an Administrator
Distribution of Assets on Intestacy
Chapter 5: The Executor’s Duties Taking Stock
Estimate Cash Needed for Immediate Future
Reducing Expenses During those First Few Days
Providing for Minor Children
Initial Inspection and Protection of Property
Chapter 6: What an Executor Should Do in the First Month
Set Up a Filing System
Obtain a Tax Identification Number
Open a Bank Account in the Name of the Estate
Sort Through the Deceased’s Personal Belongings
Claim Unpaid Salary, Insurance and Other Benefits
Managing the Estate
Send Death Notices to the Utilities Companies and Financial Institutions
Cancel Unnecessary Estate Expenses
Dealing With Depreciating Assets
Managing Personal Property
Managing Real Estate
Management of Property
Managing Cash Accounts and Investments
Managing a Business
Managing Debts of the Estate
Dealing With Taxes
Keep Copies of All Documents
Chapter 7: Property that Doesn’t go Through Probate
When Is Probate Necessary?
Payable on Death or Transfer on Death Accounts
Transfer on Death Securities
Life Insurance Proceeds
Joint Ownership of Property
Revocable Living Trust
Probate Free Transfers of Assets
Chapter 8: How to Initiate the Probate Process
What Are the Main Steps in a Probate?
Who Can File the Petition?
Where to File a Petition for Probate
How Long Will Probate Take?
Is a Lawyer Required to Assist With Probate?
Types of Probate
Small Estate Administration
Formal or Supervised Probate Administration
Initiating Supervised Probate
Notifying Interested Parties of the Hearing
Proving a Will and Dealing With Will Contests
Letters of Authority
The Requirements of a Surety Bond
Collecting and Inventorying the Estate’s Assets
Chapter 9: Creditor Claims
Dealing with Creditors
Identification and Notification of Creditors
Time Limitations on Submission of Claims
Evaluation of Claims
Payment of Claims in Solvent Estates
Priority of Payments in Insolvent Estates
What Assets Should Not Be Used to Pay Debts?
Chapter 10: Estate Tax
Responsibilities for Payment of Tax
Estate and Inheritance Taxes
Chapter 11: Distributing Assets and Closing the Estate
Closing the Estate and Distributing the Assets
What is an Accounting?
The Requirement for an Accounting
Waiving the Requirement for an Accounting
Formulating a Plan for the Distribution of the Estate Assets
Petitioning the Court to Approve the Plan of Distribution
Giving Notice of the Hearing
Distributing the Estate Assets
Transfer of Real Estate
Transfer of Cars, Boats and Other Vehicles
Transfer of Cash Accounts
Transfer of United States Savings Bonds
Transfer of Broker Accounts
Transfer of Publicly Quoted Stocks and Bonds
Transfer of Other Property
Transfer of Joint Tenancy, Community and Other Survivorship Property
Distributing Property to Children
Obtaining and Filing Receipts
Closing the Estate
What If the Estate Isn’t Ready to Be Closed?
Chapter 12: The Settling of Trusts
What Is a Trust?
What Exactly Are Living Trusts?
Parties to a Living Trust
The Successor Trustee
What Must the Successor Trustee Do When the Grantor Dies?
Obtain Certified Copies of the Death Certificate
Obtain a Tax Identification Number for the Trust
Collection and Management of Trust Assets
Preparing and Filing Tax Returns
State Taxes and Pick-Up Taxes
Transferring Property to Beneficiaries
Administering a Child’s Trust