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Old 10-01-2011, 10:17 AM   #81
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Originally Posted by MichaelB View Post
Good to see youíre making progress.

Social Security needs an original copy of the death certificate regardless of what they have told you.

You need a probate attorney to assist you. You may have to pay some bills, and you need to keep very careful receipts, but it is also customary to inform creditors that the person is deceased and they now need to wait to collect without charging penalties. Every effort should be made to pay as little as possible with your funds.

As executor you will need to determine what has value in your motherís belongings. Things like clothing, kitchen and other household items can be removed, given to relatives, friends or donated as long as they donít have real commercial value. If probate takes 6 months, you donít want to have to wait that long to begin dealing with the things left behind.

You also have no obligation to inform anyone about the will, even if they are beneficiaries, until probate is concluded. Until you have paid her obligations it is best not to create expectations regarding potential inheritance.
So in your opinion, I should inform her utility companies that she has died and they wont receive any further payment until the will is probated? They wont cut off her electricity or water if I do that?

Ive already had her internet, phone and DirecTV turned off. I was planning on disconnecting her cell phone as well. I guess just the electric, water and gas needs to stay on
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Old 10-01-2011, 10:18 AM   #82
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As executor, your fiduciary responsibilities are to the estate, not the heirs.
This statement really isn't correct. You also have a responsibility to distribute to the heirs, this is what causes all the lawsuits in these matters.
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Old 10-01-2011, 10:22 AM   #83
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So in your opinion, I should inform her utility companies that she has died and they wont receive any further payment until the will is probated? They wont cut off her electricity or water if I do that?

Ive already had her internet, phone and DirecTV turned off. I was planning on disconnecting her cell phone as well. I guess just the electric, water and gas needs to stay on
You don't need the will to be probated to pay her bills. You need the court to confirm your designation as executor. Then you can go to the bank and as executor access her funds and resume paying her bills. This could take a few weeks but not many months.

Utilities usually have procedures to deal with this. Cell phone and such needs to be cancelled. One of the reasons you need so many copies of the death certificate.
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Old 10-01-2011, 10:47 AM   #84
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Social Security needs an original copy of the death certificate regardless of what they have told you.
When my mother died, I called social security right away, and they wanted to know whether any social security payments had been received after her death. None had been. I was told very explicitly that no death certificate was needed and that my phone notification was enough. And I didn't send them a copy of the death certificate.
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Old 10-01-2011, 11:07 AM   #85
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When my mother died, I called social security right away, and they wanted to know whether any social security payments had been received after her death. None had been. I was told very explicitly that no death certificate was needed and that my phone notification was enough. And I didn't send them a copy of the death certificate.
Same for me when MIL died.
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Old 10-01-2011, 11:19 AM   #86
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I can't recall from earlier posts whether you know if the property taxes are up-to-date. Don't want the property to be auctioned while you are trying to sell it!

This also made me think about homeowner's insurance, both whether it is up-to-date and whether the house will be unoccupied for several months. If it's unoccupied, does that need to be addressed with the insurance company. It would be terrible if something serious happened to the house and the insurance company balked at paying the claim because the house was unoccupied for an extended period of time.
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Old 10-01-2011, 11:21 AM   #87
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It may depend on the situation. When I dealt with them it was to report the death of someone working with dependents eligible for survivors benefits. They requested a copy of the death certificate be delivered in person by the surviving dependent at a local office.
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Old 10-01-2011, 12:43 PM   #88
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There are no survivor benefits due to anyone. That's probably why they dont need a death certificate.

Property taxes are up to date. I assume that the homeowners insurance is up to date but haven't found any paperwork regarding that at all. I'm not even sure what company she used. I found the car insurance which just happened to be up for renewal exactly right now, but nothing on the homeowners. I think if it was delinquent I would've found the notices like I did for everything else that was late.

The house will be unoccupied but its right around the corner from us so we go by every day or so and open windows, turn on different lights ect.
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Old 10-01-2011, 12:59 PM   #89
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I strongly suggest getting a good, current book with guidance for an executor.

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encycloped...cutor-probate/

The Nolo Press books are the best I've found. I used their book for probating an estate in California, and found it to be an excellent step by step guide, including forms I could copy for various steps. Just exactly what needs to be done is going to vary from state to state, and some details such as how probate hearings are handled varies by county. (in my case, the county handled all probate hearings by phone, using a special teleconference system available only to attorneys registered with the county. Yes, that is a racket, and a bit questionable.)

In our state we are required to lodge the original copy of the will with the county court clerk, but there is no fee for that. Once lodged, official certified copies can be ordered by any interested party for a fee.

The Nolo Press books cover the steps that an executor has to go through to hers an estate through the probate process. This also varies depending on the size of an estate in our state, with very simple procedures for an estate under 100,000 dollars in net value that do not require a lawyer. The procedures seem to be intended primarily to make sure the terms of the will are met and to protect the executor from unreasonable claims.
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Old 10-01-2011, 06:18 PM   #90
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This statement really isn't correct. You also have a responsibility to distribute to the heirs, this is what causes all the lawsuits in these matters.
I was going to make a comment on this also...but Dimsumkid ...you beat me to it .
We were told....by attorneys....during the passing of both my mother and my father.....that anything designated in a will is "a legal assignment" to the beneficiary as of "the date of death". It was a real sticky point....as....my father left his stock to the grandchildren. Even though that stock was not legally transferred to them....until months later.....any and all undistributed income from the stock as of the date of death....was to be distributed to the grandchildren RATHER than to the ESTATE. The sticky point was that the ESTATE ...or should I say the Trust....since it was a pour over will....had to pay the income taxes! Profit did not follow the tax liability. Didn't make sense to some of us either. But that is how it was handled.

It is also news to me regarding the statement that the Executor does not have to give a copy of the will to the beneficiaries named in the will. Not certain that is correct. How else would they get it......other than footing it to the court house?. Even if that turns out to be correct....I wouldn't recommend handling your siblings this way.

Good luck ...sounds like you are making some head way....
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Old 10-01-2011, 06:46 PM   #91
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It is also news to me regarding the statement that the Executor does not have to give a copy of the will to the beneficiaries named in the will. Not certain that is correct. How else would they get it......other than footing it to the court house?. Even if that turns out to be correct....I wouldn't recommend handling your siblings this way.
What I said

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You also have no obligation to inform anyone about the will, even if they are beneficiaries, until probate is concluded.
First creditors and lawful obligations are paid. What is left is for the beneficiaries. They have no need to access estate information or records (except spouse and dependents) I'm not sure what need they have to see the will. If the executor wants to share that info that is his or her choice. Discussing inheritances with people before they happen is not always a good idea, especially when there is uncertainty regarding the amounts to be settled.

In most situations involving a spouse or dependent children exceptions are made to probate law so that assets can be quickly transferred.
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Old 10-01-2011, 07:26 PM   #92
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I am so sorry for the loss of your mother.
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Old 10-01-2011, 08:30 PM   #93
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What I said

First creditors and lawful obligations are paid. What is left is for the beneficiaries. They have no need to access estate information or records (except spouse and dependents) I'm not sure what need they have to see the will. If the executor wants to share that info that is his or her choice. Discussing inheritances with people before they happen is not always a good idea, especially when there is uncertainty regarding the amounts to be settled.

In most situations involving a spouse or dependent children exceptions are made to probate law so that assets can be quickly transferred.
Well Michael B this may be correct...but it is a curiosity to me. To do it this way....then..one can assume a beneficiary can not be sure he/she received what was specified in the will. Our family did not do it this way...but that doesn't mean it isn't as you say.

Now that you mention it......it is probably why an 82 year upstanding citizen of my town who was a well respected lawyer....and who was the Executor for a wealthy client who passed away....is now in jail. He...did not distribute the assets according to his clients wishes. Instead he borrowed and then lost the money. We all assume another attorney in his law firm ...found the discrepancy in the escrow accounts....otherwise who else would have known.? The local entities who were suppose to get the bequests...did not get them. And yes...they did not even know they were to receive funds. They were never notified. By the time ...(years later) they knew about it...the money was gone. Doesn't seem right....does it.? If the Executor had the legal requirement to notify and give copies of the will to the beneficiaries....they would have received their much needed money. The courts certainly can't get that back for them. He went bankrupt.
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Old 10-01-2011, 09:44 PM   #94
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Well Michael B this may be correct...but it is a curiosity to me. To do it this way....then..one can assume a beneficiary can not be sure he/she received what was specified in the will. Our family did not do it this way...but that doesn't mean it isn't as you say.

Now that you mention it......it is probably why an 82 year upstanding citizen of my town who was a well respected lawyer....and who was the Executor for a wealthy client who passed away....is now in jail. He...did not distribute the assets according to his clients wishes. Instead he borrowed and then lost the money. We all assume another attorney in his law firm ...found the discrepancy in the escrow accounts....otherwise who else would have known.? The local entities who were suppose to get the bequests...did not get them. And yes...they did not even know they were to receive funds. They were never notified. By the time ...(years later) they knew about it...the money was gone. Doesn't seem right....does it.? If the Executor had the legal requirement to notify and give copies of the will to the beneficiaries....they would have received their much needed money. The courts certainly can't get that back for them. He went bankrupt.
My suggestion is to wait until the probate process is finished and all creditor paid before engaging with the beneficiaries. Your example is about a dishonest attorney. One has nothing to do with the other.
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Old 10-01-2011, 10:51 PM   #95
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A friend at work loaned me a couple of books on handling an estate but if he hadn't I would have bought them. Well worth buying.
Walt, any specific titles come to mind?

And thanks for the Nolo book recomendation, M_Paquette.

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I believe the penalty for failure to file is calculated on the amount owed. If she owed nothing, the penalty is $0.
Yeah, good luck with that... especially if your poster name has anything to do with Ohio, where my father had to fix four or five years of his father's unfiled state tax returns.

Every state is different, but there's usually a penalty for failing to file. Then there's accrued interest on the unpaid tax liability. There may also be accrued interest on the unpaid penalty. And each year, with each unfiled tax return, the cycle begins anew.

Ohio had a funny way of accounting for the penalties & interest, much like some credit-card companies used to try to get away with. The first year that Grampa didn't file, he was due a refund. The penalty for not filing was less than the refund. Didn't matter to the state, because as far as they were concerned he hadn't earned the refund. So the full penalty was assessed, and when it wasn't paid within a certain period of time then interest began to accrue on the unpaid penalty.

The following year Grampa owed some taxes. The fact that he had a refund from the previous year didn't matter to the state because he still hadn't "earned" it. So another penalty was assessed for not filing, and it also eventually began accruing interest (along with the compound interest still accruing on the previous year's unpaid penalty). The interest on the unpaid tax bill was assessed on the full amount of the unpaid taxes, not reduced by the previous year's "refund", because again the state felt that refund had not yet been earned.

After a few years of not filing returns, it doesn't matter whether you were due a refund because the unfiled return passes the statute of limitations and the refund is forfeited. But the interest on the penalties continues to accrue, as well as the unpaid taxes and the interest on those liabilities.

The third year... but you get the point.

Dad was able to reconstruct the unfiled tax returns to determine that if refunds had been applied to liabilities first then interest on the unpaid liabilities would have been less. The state didn't care until he hired a tax attorney to help negotiate the entire mess and get Grampa up to date. IIRC it took 4-5 years. Multiply that by the thousands of state residents every year who (for whatever reason) don't pay their taxes, and it's a potential gold mine when the state finally makes its recovery... as usually happens during probate.

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As far as co-mingling assets, I'm already having to pay for a lot of things with my own money since I have no access to her bank accounts yet. Ive had to pay all of her bills that were due and over due, pay for the cremation and things like that. I assume this is customary and normal and wont cause a problem later when I reimburse myself as long as I keep records?
As executor you're allowed to reimburse your expenses. State law may even allow you to reimburse yourself for your time, but the heirs would probably take a dim view of you paying yourself to be the executor.

My brother and I are filing to become my father's conservator & guardian. We both had to affirm to his state whether we'd be reimbursing ourselves for our expenses and whether we'd be charging for our time.
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Old 10-02-2011, 07:39 AM   #96
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The will does specifically state that I should be compensated $5000 for performing duties as executor.
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Old 10-02-2011, 10:30 AM   #97
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The will does specifically state that I should be compensated $5000 for performing duties as executor.
That's a tough call. Sibling rivalry aside, some may view that $5000 as being taken out of their inheritance.

Yet everything I've read & heard about being executor says that $5000 is barely minimum wage. And I wonder if that's considered taxable income.
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Old 10-02-2011, 08:28 PM   #98
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Utrecht, I am very sorry for your loss. May God be with you.

Ha
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Old 10-02-2011, 08:44 PM   #99
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Utrecht, very sorry to hear your loss. Apologies that I can't help on your queries re estate issues. Although my dad passed away last month and we are sorting out his estate, the laws in my country may be different from others. The executors of my dad's will need to get a grant of probate. In any case, the first person we called upon to advise us on formalities was the lawyer who drew up my dad's will.
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Old 10-03-2011, 08:23 AM   #100
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This statement really isn't correct. You also have a responsibility to distribute to the heirs, this is what causes all the lawsuits in these matters.
True. I should have written that the primary responsibility is to adhere to the instructions of the will. As part of that the creditors are paid off first though.

Nords, I can't remember the titles of the books I read on administering an estate. This was in 1999 so there may have been changes in law since then anyway.

Strange that it sticks out so well in memory though. That was a difficult time.
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