The period after the passage of a loved one is traumatizing for everyone. Friends and family sink quickly into grief and despair and helplessness tends to take over everyone. But the death of a loved one does not just come with immense grief, it is also accompanied by a staggering amount of responsibility, especially for the person designated as the estate executor i.e. the one responsible for taking care of all the end of life affairs of the deceased. Any and every part of the process is tedious and grueling to say the least, but perhaps the part that takes the biggest toll on an estate executor is the estate settlement process.
The entire procedure of estate settlement involves keeping track of a million paperworks, a lot of filing and filling of forms, dealing with attorneys, accountants, taxes, bills, etc. For someone whose passing was expected, there may be a level of prior preparation involved when it comes to estate settlement. But whether the estate executor is completely uninitiated or somewhat prepared for the ordeal, the process is still gruelling, long, and outdated.
Thankfully, there exist brands like Clear Estate — whose entire dedicated team of professionals can offer the support and the tools required to take care of the business as smoothly as possible. From the moment of the loved one’s passing to the moment the estate is fully settled and the beneficiaries have all headed home — Clear Estate stays right by your side as you, as the estate executor, deal with the entire process step by step.
But, what does estate settlement actually involve?
For the ones who are completely new to the territory, the answer to the question may seem confusing — especially with all the articles on the internet listing out different steps, processes, paperworks, and legal liabilities.
So, to help you out, we have listed below a detailed checklist in case you have recently come upon or soon expect to be handed the duty of estate settlement.
Estate settlement for estate executors — a complete checklist
Being an estate executor is no cakewalk. You are responsible for carrying out someone’s last and final few wishes — so that great power comes with even greater responsibility. So, the entire process can be a major cause of stress for an estate executor. An estate executor may face a million problems. So, how do you go about settling the entire state of affairs? Below is a checklist that can take you through each step of that often tediously long process:
Submit the will:
Any estate executor begins the process of estate settlement by first locating and then submitting the will at court. If there was some prior warning regarding the passing of the deceased,chances are that you, as an estate executor, will already know where to locate the last will and testament of the deceased. But if that was not the case, one must begin by calling up their attorney in order to track the will. Once the will has been located, it will then have to be filed at probate court following an informal probate procedure.
Note: In case the attorney in possession of the will cannot be located, a notice in the local newspaper will have to be published. If it is found out that the deceased passed without ever creating a will, then the distribution of assets and liabilities will take place according to the established rules of court.
Set up the estate bank account:
An estate account is not the same as any other private or joint account you may share with your deceased loved one. An estate bank account is a completely new account opened after the deceased has already passed. All the money of the deceased is deposited into that account and is used to pay the funeral bills, the debts and overdues, any taxes, etc. — after which the remaining money is divided amongst the beneficiaries according to the terms mentioned on the will.
An estate account is created to make the entire process of paying dues and depositing returns and cheques easier and more transparent. Till the remaining money is divided among the beneficiaries, the estate executor holds the account in trust even while taking care of each step of the process of estate settlement according to the testament of the deceased.
Gathering the assets:
The next step in the process of estate settlement is creating an inventory of all the assets of the deceased. The estate executor must track all assets belonging to the deceased loved one so they may be categorized and their value can be appraised.
This part of the process needs to be within 3 months of your appointment as the estate executor. A list of the assets must also be submitted at the probate court. After this comes the process of division or sale of assets. This part of the process may include overseeing the sale of any or real estate if any outstanding debts of the deceased need to be paid off.
Paying taxes and debts owed:
One of the bigger responsibilities of the debt executor involves paying off any taxes or debts that the deceased owed at their time of passing. This is usually done by withdrawing funds from the estate account but, if that amount falls short, any or all real estate could be sold to pay off the dues. This part of the procedure too needs to be overseen by the estate executor.
Distributing assets to beneficiaries:
Once all the taxes and dues are paid off, any returns and cheques have been deposited to the estate account, and all real estate due to be sold is taken care off — the beneficiaries may be contacted and any and all remaining amount of assets and funds would be divided between them according to the terms mentioned in the will left behind by the deceased.
Close the Estate:
Finally, when all the dues and taxes are paid, any real estate sold off, all funds and cheques are deposited, funeral and other expenses paid off, and the remaining assets are divided among the beneficiaries, finally comes the time to close the estate. This will involve closing the estate account and letting go of your responsibility as the carrier of the last will and wishes of the deceased loved one.
With great power comes great responsibility. But, the process of estate settlement for an estate executor is also something that may come with immense grief and helplessness. It does not help that the process itself is long and tedious but, hopefully, with the help of this checklist, you will be able to do justice to the last wishes of your loved ones with ease.
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