How Do I Tackle Estate Settlement Paperwork?

Estate planning paperwork
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Managing estate  paperwork can seem daunting after the death of a loved one.

The list is long.

Even with a well-organized estate plan, knowing what to do after the death of a loved one is challenging to navigate.

You are dealing with the grief of a deep personal loss.

At the same time, demands are being made on your attention.

According to a recent Accounting Web article titled “Checklist for Working With a Decedent’s Estate,” it can be beneficial to start by inventorying what needs to be done.

Estate planning paperwork can feel overwhelming.
Estate administration paperwork can feel daunting without a plan of action.

What should be included?

Outline general administration and legal tasks.

If you are the executor, outline the tasks you need to accomplish.

Once you have done this, organize these onto a timelines so you know what paperwork and actions need to be prioritized to meet deadlines.

If you feel overwhelmed, you can always hire help from a qualified professional.

It is okay to admit your limitations in organizating and understanding of tax and legal issues.

Find out probate requirements.

Some jurisdictions allow for an expedited probate process if the estate is small.

Request information from your county regarding how probate is handled.

If there is an expedited process, learn whether the estate of your loved one qualifies.

Recognize whether an asset goes through probate.

If your loved one worked with an experienced estate planning attorney, he or she likely distinguished between those assets distributed through probate and those distributed outside of probate.

Joint tenancies, IRAs, and payable on death accounts with valid designated beneficiaries bypass probate.

Locate documents and notify heirs, creditors, and other important parties about the death.

You will need to find the last will and testament, deeds, trusts, brokerage and bank statements, partnership agreements, prior tax returns, gift tax returns, and state and federal tax forms.

If you are uncertain how to navigate this paperwork to determine ownership, assets, and liabilities, an experienced estate planning attorney can provide guidance.

It is important to inform Medicare, Social Security, pension administrators, the Department of Veteran Affairs, the post office, trustees, heirs, and service providers of the death of your loved one.

Taxes are an important part of administering an estate.

You will need to file taxes in a timely manner.

Filing an estate tax return can still be useful even if an estate tax return is not required.


It can outline a date of death value for assets.

You will need to resolve any IRS or state tax examination issues as well as any income tax statute of limitation issues.

If there is a charitable remainder trust, it will need to be included in the estate tax return if it has a retained lifetime income interest.

Administering an estate takes attention to detail and involves a lot of important paperwork.

Organization is key as you move forward.

Do not go it alone.

ReferenceAccounting Web (March 19, 2021) “Checklist for Working With a Decedent’s Estate”

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