Estate Planning Massachusetts
Estate & Trust Administration
Some people mistakenly believe that if they have an estate plan there is nothing further needed at the death of a party. Actually, at such a time valuable strategic planning is advisable (i.e. disclaimer planning, portability advice, updating the survivor's plan, etc.). Boyd & Boyd, P.C. offers a complimentary consultation to review strategic and critical considerations.
Administration of an estate of a decedent depends upon which estate planning choices were made during lifetime.
If nothing were done, it would be an intestate estate. The state would determine who would receive the non-joint and non-contract property. For all assets titled in the decedent's name a court procedure called probate is necessary to change title from the decedent to the new beneficiary.
If the decedent had a will - but no trust - the court involvement of probate is required to change title from the decedent's name to the beneficiaries named in the will.
If the decedent had already placed assets into his trust (a funded or living trust) title must also be changed to reflect the new successor trustee. However, this change of title does not require court involvement. It is quicker and less costly. There are many issues to address - such as obtaining a new tax identification number for the trust, obtaining date of death values of assets - including appraisal of real estate, possible preparation of estate tax returns (state and/or federal), etc.
Massachusetts automatically places an estate tax lien upon all Massachusetts real estate of the decedent. To clear title something must be recorded to release the estate tax lien. Likewise, if all of a Massachusetts decedent's assets amount to one million dollars ($1,000,000) a Massachusetts estate tax return must be prepared and filed. Currently, if all of the decedent's assets total five million four hundred and ninety thousand dollars ($5,490,000) a U. S. estate tax return must be prepared and filed. Often it is wise to file an estate tax return for lesser values to peg the tax basis, and to start the statute of limitations running. Also if "portability" of exemption is advised a return must be filed.
Boyd and Boyd is experienced to help you in these matters.
We strive to take the burden from you.
The loss of a loved one is often a time of stress. One of the first things you can do to minimize this stress is to call our office to schedule a complimentary consultation. Estate Administration may take up to a year and a half. Fully settling a Trust after a death may take as long as one year. Administering the trust of a decedent, depending on the terms of the instrument, may go on for many years. The process involves things like inventorying assets, appraising assets, changing title, accounting and paying taxes. You may not realize there are a number of time sensitive choices available,as well as traps for the unwary. Call us to schedule your appointment as soon as practical and before making any claims, so as to avoid these mistakes. We can prepare and file the necessary forms for probate, life insurance, annuities, retirement accounts, and taxes. We can do all the paperwork to assist you through the entire estate settlement process.
What should you do when someone dies?
Some people mistakenly believe that if they had an estate plan there is nothing further needed at the death of one party. Actually at such a time valuable strategic planning is advisable, eg. disclaimer planning, portability advice, updating the survivor's plan etc. Boyd & Boyd PC offers a complementary consultation to review critical considerations.
Once you have scheduled an appointment with Boyd & Boyd, P.C. you should gather the following documents and information needed to assist in carrying out duties as Executor or Trustee.
1. The Original Will and codicils, if any.
2. The Original Trust and all amendments.
3. Copies of any other trust with respect to which the decedent was a trustee or beneficiary at the time of death.
4. Certified copies of death certificate (about ten).
5. Most recent bank statements for accounts on which the decedent's name appears as either sole or co-owner in any capacity.
6. All passbooks and savings certificates on which his name appears.
7. A list of all safe deposit boxes on which his name appeared, by bank and branch, and (if you have entered the box or boxes) an inventory of the contents of each.
8. All notes or accounts receivable representing payments owed to the decedent.
9. Copy of all stock certificates, bonds, US Savings Bonds or other securities.
10. Most current statements for all mutual fund and brokerage accounts on which his name appears - either as sole owner, joint, or Trustee.
11. All IRA and qualified pension benefit documents, including beneficiary designation forms; any document showing a death benefit.
12. Title certificates for all automobiles, recreational vehicles, etc., in which the decedent had any ownership interest.
13. All life insurance policies and annuities, including any beneficiary designation forms on his life or your life.
14. All deeds to real property in which the decedent had any interest, and copies of any notes or mortgages to which such properties are subject.
15. All leases for all real property on which he was either the landlord or tenant.
16. The decedent's personal income tax returns for the three previous years.
17. Copies of all gift, estate, and/or generation-skipping transfer tax returns ever filed by the decedent at any time in the past.
18. Complete financial statements and copies of tax returns for past three years for any partnerships or other closely held business interests of the decedent.
19. Copies of any partnership agreements, buy-sell agreements, and corporate records for any partnership interest or closely held corporation.
20. A list of tangible personal property items which, individually or as a group or collection, have a fair market value in excess of $3,000.00 (eg. jewelry, art, antiques, coin or stamp collections, furs, etc.).
21. Copies of all checks uncashed at his death, made payable to the decedent.
22. Any documents concerning any country club memberships.
23. Copies of all bills for expenses of last illness, such as hospital and doctor bills, and an itemized list of all funeral and related expenses.
24. A list of any known debts, liabilities, pending lawsuits, or other claims of or against the decedent.
25. Any other documents that you believe may be important to our understanding of the decedent's personal and financial affairs.
While this list may appear overwhelming, obtaining the information will save many questions and delays in proper administration of an estate.