Death, foreseeable or not, is always a devastating experience. In the midst of this emotional upheaval, one or more persons will be named as the Executor, Administrator or Trustee, and on this person the burden will fall of administering the estate.
Simply stated, administering an estate is the process of finding and gathering the assets, paying the debts and taxes, and distributing the assets to the heirs. To the uninitiated, this “simple” process can be filled with the pitfalls of ignored tax elections, overlooked creditors and missed deadlines that can cost the estate money and lost opportunity. Add to that the personal liability of the executor, or a possible will contest, and estate administration quickly goes from simple to complicated.
We have assisted hundreds of executors in fulfilling their responsibilities to estates. Our staff is experienced in finding all of a decedents assets and placing them under the control of the executor by having title changed to the estate. Because our Estate Administration Department is staffed with tax attorneys, two of whom are former auditors with the Estate and Gift Tax Division of the IRS, we can maximize the exemptions and elections available under the tax code, and prepare an estate tax return which justifies our client’s position. Because of our experience, we are able to efficiently conclude an estate administration by managing the distribution of the assets to the beneficiaries so that the responsibilities of the executor quickly come to an end.
Our clients are especially well served by our ability to draw on our other practice areas to assist in an estate administration, whether it be our Real Estate Department to liquidate property, our Collections practice to gather open receivables, or our Litigation Department to reform a document or advocate for our client in a will contest. By relying on our breadth of experience, an executor can be confident that his or her duties to the estate will be satisfied in a comprehensive and efficient manner.
Given our knowledge of all aspects of estate administration, we also counsel beneficiaries and potential beneficiaries of estates who are seeking to enforce their rights, whether it be to accelerate the estate administration process or contest a suspect will. As in our representation of an executor, our clients seeking to enforce their beneficial interests profit from our ability to evaluate their issues both from a probate and litigation viewpoint.