01 Feb How do I settle an estate?
Estates must be settled soon after a death in the family occurs, even though this is a very emotional time. If you have been appointed the Executor of someone’s will, there are several steps in settling the estate. An experienced estate attorney can assist you in settling the many factors that are involved in this process. There are a number of steps that need to be taken when settling an estate.
First, you need to find the will, if there is one. Not all people prepare wills and sometimes it is not possible to find a will that has been prepared. In these cases the person dies “intestate.” Sometimes wills are stored in safe deposit boxes. You will need to make sure that you can access the safe deposit boxes in order to obtain the will. Your next step is to determine whether probate is necessary. Probate is usually not necessary in all cases depending on the amount of assets and to whom they are being transferred. If the will is going to go through probate, you have to file the will with the local probate court. Make sure to keep a copy of the will for yourself.Some of the other next steps that you are going to need to take when you are the Executor of a will may include:
- Notifying agencies and businesses, including:
- the Post Office
- utility companies
- credit card companies
- Federal agencies that have provided public benefits such as the Social Security Administration or the Veteran’s Administration
- Take an inventory of the assets and obtain appraisals. Determine how the title to assets is held.
- Ensure that beneficiaries are aware of the death.
- Take good care of the estate’s assets. You must keep any real estate properties well maintained, valuables secure, and everything of value insured.
- Collect money owed to the estate.
- Pay bills from estate funds.
- File an income tax return.
The last thing that you will have to do as is actually distribute the assets. Given the many steps involved in the process, you may wish to seek the assistance of an experienced attorney in the process, particularly for larger estates. CoffyLaw, LLC handles all matters related to IP, including patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. Our law firm also effectively enforces and protects intellectual property for our New Jersey clients. If you need our quality legal services contact CoffyLaw, LLC for an exploratory meeting.