Probate or estate administration is the process whereby a person’s fiduciary, normally referred to as an executor or administrator, gathers the decedent’s assets, pays his or her outstanding bills and distributes the balance to designated beneficiaries in a will or to an individuals heirs under the laws of intestacy. The process can be rather simple where the assets are limited and the beneficiaries or heirs are few. However, even with regard to simple estates, fiduciaries are obligated to perform certain duties to ensure the proper administration and conclusion of an estate. Where there are significant assets or a variety of beneficiaries, including trusts, the estate administration process can become more complex and often require experienced and knowledgeable counsel to guide a fiduciary through the process.
The attorneys at Simeone & Raynor also understand the difficulty borne by a fiduciary who is responsible for the proper administration of an estate while still grieving the loss of a loved one. Our firm routinely represents executors and administrators in both simple and complex estate matters. We strive to make even the most complex estate administration matters less of a burden upon fiduciaries who may at times feel overwhelmed by the process due to the loss of a loved one.
Almost all fiduciaries for an estate are required to perform the following duties, all of which the knowledgeable and experienced attorneys at Simeone & Raynor can assist them with:
1. Prepare and send a notice of probate to beneficiaries;
2. Gather the decedent’s assets;
3. Pay and negotiate or resolve debts of the decedent;
4. Perform a mandatory Medicaid lien search;
5. Sale or transfer of the decedent’s home (where necessary);
6. Prepare interim and final accountings (where necessary);
7. Assessing and addressing the tax implications of retirement accounts;
8. Prepare and file Federal and State Estate and Inheritance tax returns (where necessary);
9. Prepare and file Federal and State Income Tax Returns (where necessary);
10. Prepare and file the decedent’s final income tax returns;
11. Perform child support judgment searches as to heirs and beneficiaries;
12. Manner and timing of partial or final distributions during the estate process, including whether to maintain reserves for unanticipated expenses of the estate; and
13. Prepare and file the appropriate release and refunding bonds to finalize the estate or to file an order to show cause and verified complaint to seek approval of a final accounting where necessary.
While the foregoing list is not all inclusive as to the responsibilities of an executor or an administrator, they often represent the most common duties performed in the administration process. The attorneys at Simeone & Raynor routinely handle these matters and can assist a fiduciary to perform their duties in such a manner that the estate process will be less of a burden upon them and their families during this difficult time. In addition to the above noted duties, experienced counsel in the estate administration and probate process, can be invaluable when a fiduciary is confronted with a more complex and larger estate. Under those circumstances, the attorneys at Simeone & Raynor can guide you through issues such as:
1. The sale or transfer of commercial or business real estate;
2. The sale or transfer of a family business;
3. The proper valuation of businesses and commercial real estate;
4. The tax consequences associated with such sales or transfers and how to address heirs or beneficiaries disputing or contesting such transfers;
5. Business litigation with the decedent’s former partners or owners; and
6. Potential Will challenges and probate litigation.
Through decades of experience and knowledge the attorneys at Simeone & Raynor have built a reputation and a law firm which specializes in handling all aspects of the estate and probate process. The attorneys will provide you with the guidance you need to make the process as easy as possible and listen to your concerns and individual needs. From the relatively simple estates to the most complex matters and considerations, Simeone & Raynor provides a full suite of services in one place. As our firm’s testimonials indicate, these services are always provided with care and commitment to our clients.