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Old 06-11-2016, 01:26 PM   #21
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Safety deposit boxes are tricky, as banks want to seal them and make you jump through hoops.
As executor of my dead mom's estate I didn't want to deal with this and it's a real catch-22 if the will is in the safety deposit box.

Using my POA, I emptied the safety deposit box, got the will, and later notified the bank with death certificate and returned the keys.
While there I literally saw about a hundred or more, of sealed safety deposit boxes.

Same issue for when setting up bank account as executor: example Estate of X. Y. Zzz
There were a lot of estate accounts at the one branch I was at, which told me the banks want to hang onto the money as long as possible for liability and profit reasons (since they didn't pay interest on these accounts).

Lots of funeral home copies of death certificates was critical.
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Old 06-11-2016, 01:32 PM   #22
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Excellent explanation!

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Originally Posted by MooreBonds View Post
To expand a little further with some technical stuff:

Presumably, your father purchased the savings bonds in his (and maybe your mother's) names. Perhaps with a beneficiary, perhaps not. If there was no beneficiary or other co-owner, then the bonds become part of the estate. Any income earned AFTER the date of death is income earned by the estate. Any income earned by the estate is then (usually) passed through to the heirs, based on the proportion of their inheritance of the overall estate. This income is then declared by each heir on their taxes.

UNLIKE unrealized capital gains (which receive a stepped-up basis upon death, when transferred to an heir), savings bonds do NOT receive a stepped-up basis:

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-wd/09-0120.pdf

If you and the other heirs were co-owners or beneficiaries of the bond, then you would declare the income when the bond was cashed in, just as with any other savings bond.

Savings bonds issued in the 60s likely reached full maturity before your mother's death, so they had to all be cashed in at the time of her passing. (Technically, you have to declare the interest when it reaches final maturity whether you cash it in or not, but many people don't know that, and it just slips by the radar, usually because the amounts involved are not gigantic).
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Old 06-12-2016, 08:03 PM   #23
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My 3 brothers and I were involved in settling my parents' estate. One brother was the executor. He is an attorney. We all believe he took advantage of his position and manipulated a lot of the steps and distributions to the rest of us.

In the end, we all were so sick of arguing with him after 3 years that we have up and settled. Now none of us talk to him. The one thing we did right was to establish from the outset that no in-laws would be present for discussions or distribution. It was difficult enough for the 4 of us, without adding 4 more spouses.

What I learned is that settling estates often brings out the very worst in people you thought you knew and loved.


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Settling an Estate
Old 06-13-2016, 05:09 AM   #24
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Settling an Estate

I've been involved with a couple of estates and my sense of it is:
- The more detailed the will the more likely the family will be talking to each other when it is over.
- The more mature and financially stable the heirs are the smoother it will be. Just one bad apple can make for an awful experience for all.
- the person should make their wishes known to all.

Like Ally said "Money can bring out the worst in people" I've seen some pretty awful behavior.

An example: The executor wants the family farm, agrees to buy out his siblings and the never fully pays for it. The brothers are people of modest means and the money would make a difference in their lives. With each day the anger grows. I'm sure the dead beat has rationalized his behavior in some way .... Now there is hatred and the harm is irreversible. Had the will specified sell the farm there wouldn't be an issue.

Estates take time to settle, there's a good chance some heirs will spend the money before they get it. The paycheck to paycheck crowd will be itching for that money - always suspicious of why it is taking so long? Sadly most of the time the money will only offer be a temporary respite. Windfalls are a good 'litmus paper' of peoples financial health. Spend it on something frivolous? Retire debt? or spend a little and save the rest? If your lucky by the time you are involved in an estate you are financially settled and the money won't change your life. I've always felt every dollar of inheritance is pretty sacred.. To be saved or used to improve ones life...

I've done the tax return of a friend who Mom and Dad passed in quick succession; He took some fabulous trips to the Greek isles etc.,. And spent spent spent - In short order the couple hundred grand inherited was all but gone. My gut told me it was so wrong.. A life time of saving all gone.


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Old 06-15-2016, 07:31 AM   #25
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Prince's death is a good example of someone who could've really used a will drawn up:

Quote:
Zwicker reiterates what many estates attorneys have been saying since Prince died: He should have drawn up a will.

"If he had a well-written estate plan, it could have eliminated all the expense and nonsense going on now," she says. "His estate plan could have included an intentional omission clause: 'These are the people I provide for and I intentionally deprive anyone else who claims to be an heir.' "

Zwicker says the failure to draw up an estate plan happens among some of her clients, especially in sports or the entertainment industry.

"My rich clients who are entrepreneurs, real-estate developers, hedge-fund creators, they’re all business people and they understand the need to plan," she says. "Where I have fears about this happening is our clients who are professional athletes and in the entertainment industry. Their skill set is often completely different than planning ahead.

"There are times where we cannot bring a client to the finish line — they can’t get over some hurdle" to sign the papers.
'Heirs' to Prince's millions are multiplying

Three very high profile deaths in the past few years. Prince, Ali, and Robin Williams. Prince, looks like had no will. Ali named wife as executor so probably has will and pre-arranged his funeral. Williams did a really good job having a trusts set up for his heirs (but since he died of a suicide, didn't that make any life insurance invalid?).
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Old 06-15-2016, 08:24 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by easysurfer View Post
Prince's death is a good example of someone who could've really used a will drawn up:

... Williams did a really good job having a trusts set up for his heirs (but since he died of a suicide, didn't that make any life insurance invalid?).
But Prince is dead. Does he care about the turmoil he left behind? I could understand the approach of "Why spend hours in a lawyer's office, that's no fun, let them sort it out when I'm gone".

Now, I (and I assume most of us) would care. We don't want to leave a mess for our heirs. But Prince wasn't like most of us. AFAIK, he never posted here, wasn't interested in ER (even though he was FI), and probably had a thought process far different from any of us.

As far as suicide and life insurance, I think many policies will pay, but I think there is typically a waiting period of X year(s)?

-ERD50
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Old 06-15-2016, 08:36 AM   #27
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But Prince is dead. Does he care about the turmoil he left behind? I could understand the approach of "Why spend hours in a lawyer's office, that's no fun, let them sort it out when I'm gone".

Now, I (and I assume most of us) would care. We don't want to leave a mess for our heirs. But Prince wasn't like most of us. AFAIK, he never posted here, wasn't interested in ER (even though he was FI), and probably had a thought process far different from any of us.

As far as suicide and life insurance, I think many policies will pay, but I think there is typically a waiting period of X year(s)?

-ERD50
To have a will or not is a very personal decision. It very well could be the case that to have one or not was a non-issue for him. If there is an afterlife, he may be laughing at all the analysis of his estate.

Or, as I've read that he felt taken advantage of early in his career so became a bit paranoid of signing anything and was a serial new attorney each year type of person.

In some ways, I envy a free spirit like Prince who seemed to lived for today and today only. I have a brother kind of like him in the live for today only. He isn't eccentric (genius?) like Prince was, but stuff like taking pictures of his kids graduations, weddings, vacations isn't important to him. The same with pondering life's meaning. His view is "So what?" But other stuff like if his favorite football losing, he is devastated. Different strokes for different folks.
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Old 06-15-2016, 09:35 AM   #28
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We are still settling my FILs estate; he died in 2014. Hopefully the last piece of foreign stock (manulife) will get sold this week and we can finish up paying everyone off (including DW for her work as PR).

For all his good intentions, documenting everything, etc - he messed up his beneficiary designations for his qualified plans and those had to go through probate, not to mention the immediate tax treatment.

I would suggest getting an attorney to review all beneficiary designations and setting up a will such that the minimum goes through probate. What a PITA.
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Old 06-15-2016, 09:37 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by ERD50 View Post

As far as suicide and life insurance, I think many policies will pay, but I think there is typically a waiting period of X year(s)?

-ERD50
LI pays upon suicide because...the mortality tables that are used to price LI include death due to suicide. I think there is usually a one or two year elimination period though.
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Old 06-15-2016, 10:30 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rayinpenn View Post

Like Ally said "Money can bring out the worst in people" I've seen some pretty awful behavior.
I've done the tax return of a friend who Mom and Dad passed in quick succession; He took some fabulous trips to the Greek isles etc.,. And spent spent spent - In short order the couple hundred grand inherited was all but gone. My gut told me it was so wrong.. A life time of saving all gone.
I have a cousin who blew through $1 M in inheritances -incredible!
As Ben Franklin said," To know the true nature of a person-inherit with them"
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Old 06-15-2016, 10:43 AM   #31
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We did not have a lawyer and don't intend for my son to hire one either. Here's the simple approach (will work for me, I'm in California):

Skip probate by:
1. POD / TOD on all investment, bank, insurance accounts
2. IN CALIFORNIA, put that TOD on house
3. Keep traceable assets (belongings) under 150k so it can be done with a small estate affidavit

TODs on homes not possible in 2012 so that sits in a simple 1 page trust I wrote witnessed by 5 people not inheriting.

Got 10 death certs each time but only needed:
1. California banks - immediately disbursed
2. Fidelity - took under 5 minutes to split into 5 accounts
3. USAA with small estate affidavit - Texas can be complicated
4. Home in poorly written trust (not witnessed - stupid lawyer) - WFB assigned specialist to aid in transferring funds in from title company once sold as stupid lawyer forgot to have trust witnessed
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Old 06-15-2016, 10:50 AM   #32
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Also, assign a good PR in the will. My nephew is a hotshot attorney so we named him PR in lieu of any other relatives.
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Old 06-15-2016, 10:56 AM   #33
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Side note: b4 you do the quit claim deed make sure it will be recognized. Here it must be notarized and recorded within 60 days or it will probate. The key is to avoid probate
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Old 06-15-2016, 11:06 AM   #34
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A big challenge to an Executor in this day and age is the use of email for business transactions. I learned after serving as Personal Representative that the large email providers such as yahoo mail do not honor any type of Probate appointment to reset the decedent's email password and may even delete the account if they learn of the death.

Fortunately, the way that I had setup Dad's email in prior years was that I gave him an email address from a domain that belongs to us. I had an email forwarding service forward the mail to his yahoo account.

In this case I was able to redirect where email was sent to after his death (assuming that it was not sent directly to @yahoo.com, but rather @ourdomain.com) to a mail account that I had access to.

I didn't plan this up front, but it was a byproduct of my general feeling that it is a bad idea to use and widely publish an email address with a domain that you do not directly control.

This is likely a big effort to change after the fact after an email address is widely published, but for somebody setting up a new email address then this may make sense.

-gauss

p.s. Having a Military discharge dd214 form and SS number readily available was useful for scheduling the final interment at the Military National Cemetery and was one of the high priority items for us to get to our funeral director in order to establish the schedule for everything (ie publish obit, schedule church etc. etc.)

p.p.s "Avoiding probate" IMHO is entirely overblown fear-induced concept likely attributable to the Living Trust industry. I had the option of attempting a low-value estate summary proceedings based on the low value equity in the Real Estate involved (< $50,000) but elected instead for the "normal" (informal unsupervised) probate to avoid any cloud of title when the property is later disposed of. Don't let an irrational fear of probate wag the estate planning dog.
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Old 06-15-2016, 11:34 AM   #35
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An example: The executor wants the family farm, agrees to buy out his siblings and the never fully pays for it. The brothers are people of modest means and the money would make a difference in their lives. With each day the anger grows. I'm sure the dead beat has rationalized his behavior in some way .... Now there is hatred and the harm is irreversible. Had the will specified sell the farm there wouldn't be an issue.
Good example of why PR/executor selection should be based upon high moral character as well as good business skills.

Of course be sure they are well equipped with a well-crafted, detailed will.

In the above case, I would think the brothers who were deprived of their rightful inheritance would have a solid legal claim against the executor and could enforce this claim via a court action which could compel payment.

Executors/Personal Representatives are held to the (high) fiduciary standard.

If PR lied under oath (ie Sworn Statement to close) when closing the estate about distributing all the assets he may be guilty of perjury.

Distributing assets via probate, as mentioned in my prior post, can indeed have advantages.

-gauss
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Old 06-15-2016, 11:35 AM   #36
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I guess it depends on the value of the estate. Yours (gauss) was under the small estate limit (estates up to 150k in California do not probate). The two I settled and mine are 7 figures
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Old 06-15-2016, 11:43 AM   #37
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FWIW: I have set up multiple investment accounts so that the vast majority will transfer within minutes exactly as I want:
- brokerage, IRA, Roth, 2 checking accounts, savings account - 50 / 50 DD & DS
- 2nd brokerage - 14% to each grandkid, 2% to DS for being executor
- house - 50 / 50 DS & DD
- minor savings - synagogue

4 death certs needed: USAA, Schwab, county pension, house

The only discussion on the 2 I handled were: a box of Morgan, Peace , and St Gaudins. The numatist I used wasn't very good. There was an even amount of gold dollars so that was easy.
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Old 06-15-2016, 12:45 PM   #38
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p.p.s "Avoiding probate" IMHO is entirely overblown fear-induced concept likely attributable to the Living Trust industry. I had the option of attempting a low-value estate summary proceedings based on the low value equity in the Real Estate involved (< $50,000) but elected instead for the "normal" (informal unsupervised) probate to avoid any cloud of title when the property is later disposed of. Don't let an irrational fear of probate wag the estate planning dog.
So true. In doing tax returns, I have found many folks unnecessarily complicate their financial life through using a "living trust". One situation I know of is where the living trust was written in such a way that when the husband died, all his rentals had to be reported half owned by the resulting irrevocable trust, half by his surviving wife. This went on for years, enriching the accountants and lawyers in an effort to avoid probate.

I've settled two estates in PA in the last decade and I did not find either to be difficult. A few letters, a few forms, never appeared before any court. Worst was the PA Inheritance Tax forms. The only lawyer involved was one I used as an adviser on a per hour basis. Settled each estate for less than a thousand dollars in legal fees. Including jointly owned assets, each estate was under half million $$. Since it was family, I did not request any administrative fee for my time, just direct reimbursement for out of pocket expenses. In my cases, the court would only become involved if a heir or potential heir filed a petition for the court to review my handling of the estate.
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Old 06-15-2016, 12:54 PM   #39
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So I'm wondering : what benefit do you get from Probate when you can determine exact disbursement with POD / TOD (aka: Totten Trust) delineations

Always willing to learn (& in CA you'll usually pay County Admin, bond, attny, bond, CPA -- why would I want my beneficiaries to share with them when I can avoid it with a simple form at the institution)

Says someone who used to do the fiduciary accounting for County Admin office
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Old 06-15-2016, 01:04 PM   #40
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So true. In doing tax returns, I have found many folks unnecessarily complicate their financial life through using a "living trust". One situation I know of is where the living trust was written in such a way that when the husband died, all his rentals had to be reported half owned by the resulting irrevocable trust, half by his surviving wife. This went on for years, enriching the accountants and lawyers in an effort to avoid probate.
I had a similar experience. To avoid estate tax, that half was put into a QTIP trust. Every year I had to file a 1041 and CA 541 form. Fortunately, in my case, the trust stated that if the balance fell below a certain amount, the trust could be dissolved, which I did.
But it took from 2005 until 2014 for that to happen. I take responsibility for that. When the estate tax minimum was raised, while my wife was alive, I was too lazy to get the trust changed.
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