"Inheriting an estate can be an emotional journey, especially if you had a close relationship with the person whose estate you are settling or if you're planning an estate sale due to divorce or foreclosure."
Get advice. Don't take on this responsibility alone. As you begin the process of selling the contents of an estate, find yourself a support system. This can include members of your family, friends, and experts (like an estate planning attorney). These folks can provide you with valuable advice, and you may feel more comfortable when you've considered input from others. Given that this is an extremely emotional experience, you might also want to talk with a member of the clergy or a counselor as you go through the steps of preparing for the estate sale.
Get ready for memories. There can be times of grief that will pop up unexpectedly, and in some instances, simply seeing certain items will trigger special memories. Sorting through some household items might appear to be a simple and unemotional task. However, it can be tough when you come across something that you associate with a memorable occasion. Be prepared to find items that may cause a moment of pain. Even so, try to balance this with happy memories when you can. While this isn't always easy, concentrating on positive feelings can be a critical part of staying strong throughout the process.
Get ready to take your time. Although it may not be possible, try not to rush through the planning stages for the estate sale. Make wise decisions on what to sell, what to keep, and what to donate—as you want to avoid any regrets in the future. Preparing for an estate sale offers a measure of closure, but this process can also cultivate feelings of finality. Allow yourself time and space to consider your options to reduce the emotional burden.
Get help. An estate sale service can eliminate much of the emotional pressure that comes from the estate sale process. This way you don't have to focus on details that aren't really your area of expertise, such as pricing, staging, and scheduling. This will let you have the freedom to channel your energy into emotional healing. In addition, this professional assistance can lessen the burden of decision making, which can be helpful.
Our caring team at Sundvick Legacy Center are here for you when you find yourself facing challenges such as these. Please call our office at 702-384-3767 to schedule a consultation.
"From keys to debts, handling an estate is a detail-oriented responsibility."
Being named an executor of a will is a big responsibility. However, most individuals selected know nothing about what they need to do in the role, according to the recent US News article "4 Tips to Be a Better Executor."
An executor must deal with the estate of a deceased person—including identifying and valuing the assets, paying debts, and disbursing the assets according to the decedent's will. He or she also needs to ensure that the assets are protected during this period.
Here are a few things to know about the role of an executor of an estate.
You're a fiduciary. A fiduciary is the person who's liable if they don't do it right, which means that the person named as executor has to follow the wishes of the will. Any deviation requires approval from the probate court.
You may be required to get some help. In some states, the executor must have an attorney—except in some situations—because he or she is representing other heirs and has some duties to creditors. Wills need to be probated, and an attorney can help the executor with this the process. Executors need to have state-specific information because probate laws vary. In addition, having an attorney helps if there is any contention—like a person who says they have a newer version of a will or who argues that the person named executor is incapable of doing the job. Also, with a large estate, the executor may also want to engage other professionals—such as an accountant to complete the deceased's final tax return, a real estate broker to sell any property in the estate, or an individual who specializes in collectibles to help the process go smoothly. These professionals are paid from proceeds of the estate.
Secure the estate ASAP. Change the locks on the house and collect the keys to any vehicles. Inform heirs and creditors quickly. Executors need to create a legal notice to creditors through publication. The creditors of the deceased have a limited time to make a claim, or else they are barred. Don't pay claims until they've been properly authenticated. You can also negotiate claims with creditors—even after you've determined them to be valid—in order to retain more assets for the heirs.
Communicate with the beneficiaries. It's important to reach out to the beneficiaries to keep them in the loop throughout the process, which may take six months or more. Heirs will ask when they get their money or property. They get their distributions when the executor has made the determination that the proper debts have all been paid. However, partial distribution of the estate may satisfy heirs while the estate is being settled, which may include passing out small, tangible items that don't require a separate appraisal. These items can be distributed easily and quickly, but executors first need to make certain there are assets remaining to pay creditors. Document everything concerning the will, which helps with any disputes.
A fiduciary should be transparent and communicate with the beneficiaries, but it's not a democratic process: you're in charge. Sundvick Legacy Center helps guide families through both the planning process as well as the process of Trust Administration helping to make the process as smooth as possible for families. We are here for you. Please call our office at 702-384-3767 to schedule your free consultation today!
“We’ve all seen it on TV and in movies, as well as in real life: wills can trigger nasty squabbles and bruised feelings.”
Without some communication about what’s in a person’s will, there can be big surprises when this individual passes away—especially if children or grandchildren are cut out. A recent business2community.com article, “How to Successfully Contest a Will,” says that if you are left out of a will you may be pretty upset. Although you may never know why your loved one made this decision, there are some steps you can take.
Contesting the will as a spouse: the right of election. If your spouse left you out of his or her will, you would be entitled to the right of election in most states. This means that you can reject the will and get a certain dollar amount or percentage of the estate pursuant to state probate law.
Contesting the will as another type of heir. Other than a surviving spouse, no one has an automatic right to inherit anything, meaning a person can cut out anyone they choose. However, people can contest the will’s validity on other grounds:
Improper signing: If the will wasn’t signed in accordance with state laws, the will may be thrown out. For example, in most states a testator must sign the will in the presence of two witnesses who are unrelated to him or her by blood or marriage.
Lack of capacity: We’ve seen this many times in the case of billionaires changing their wills right before they pass away. If the testator can be shown not to have had the capacity needed to create and sign the will, then the will may be invalidated. People who have dementia can still be considered capable of executing a will if they intermittently displayed the necessary mental capacity.
Undue influence or fraud: What if a person was forced to sign the will or signed it without realizing he or she was signing a will? What if someone swapped pages in the will when the signature happened? In each of these instances, the will could be invalid.
A later will or codicil: A will can be invalidated if another one, signed later, is discovered. The most recent will is used, and it’s as if the old one doesn’t exist. If the testator signed a codicil or amendment to the existing will, both the codicil and will are probated. Any changes or additions made in the codicil will control the distribution. A codicil can also be contested, just like a will.
When a will is invalidated, a number of things could happen. If there’s an older will that was signed before the now invalidated one, that one could take effect if the court approves it. If there’s no other will, the estate is divided according to the terms of state intestacy laws. Typically, assets are divided among the spouse and children. Other relatives may get something if there’s no spouse or child. In any event, this is a complicate matter requiring experienced legal professionals. At Sundvick Legacy Center, we have been navigating families through the complex maze of estate planning for over 20 years. Call our our office at 702-384-3767 for your free consultation today.