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Checklist for Working With a Decedent’s Estate


While the tasks of dealing with an estate after someone passes may be simple administration, the work associated with it is often quite complicated. There are not only tax return issues, but matters involving family, the family attorney (or attorneys), business associates, partners, trustees, bankers, investment advisors and tax collectors from the IRS to state and local authorities.

Mar 19th 2021
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There is an extraordinary amount of work outside of estate planning that arises when a tax client passes, mainly dealing with the decedent. This article hopes to serve as a basic checklist for accounting professionals to work with the decedent.

The trusted advisor usually gets called by the surviving spouse or other family, but it may also be incumbent upon the advisor to remind, teach, the family and others of the work that arises when someone passes. The estate of even middle-management executives, ordinary people that are not considered wealthy, can involve considerable effort…. and expense.

Some of the below steps are very interrelated and there are myriad initial considerations, but there are also tasks that may be more distant.

1. General Administration and Legal

At the earliest possible stage, the advisor or executor may want to sketch out a timetable of foreseen steps. If the situation is not so common for you, consider locating sources of help including probate court clerks or even the family attorney. Also, consider what education and help the executor may need, giving consideration to costs.

Resolve through the client’s attorney whether probate is necessary. Some states may have expedited processes for smaller estates. As the advisor, you will familiarize yourself with the rules in the local jurisdiction of when probate is necessary and the assets subject to probate. 

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