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Old 02-11-2020, 09:56 AM   #21
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Don't close the checking account. DH was also and owner and kept it open until everything settled, keeping a small balance. Pulls from SS were quick, but we received several refunds made payable to MIL and would have had trouble had we closed the account. We also wrote checks for utilities and the like from that account until the real estate sold.
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Old 02-11-2020, 09:57 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Golden sunsets View Post
My dear mother passed away last weekend. She was almost 95. She had developed dementia which progressed pretty rapidly over the past 2.5 years. I feel as though I had been losing her by inches over that time period and much of my grieving had already taken place. It was a blessing in the end, something which I can now admit. She was a lovely mother. I was very fortunate to be raised by she and my Dad who passed 10 ago.

I will meet with an attorney next week but I was hoping to understand the mechanics of the transfer of her assets. She has a checking account that I am a co owner of and a brokerage account in her name, naming me as sole beneficiary. There is a small whole life policy and a small IRA, both naming me as beneficiary. I am an only child and her executor. That's it. Total value is fairly substantial but well below the federal and state thresholds.

So I am wondering what the mechanics will be of transfering the assets. I'm thinking that as I am joint on the checking account, I could write a check at any time to myself and then close the account. As far as the brokerage account is concerned, there will be a step up and 4 of the holdings I want to hold onto. The remainder I want to sell and reinvest in our AA. I'd like to sell those as soon as possible, thus creating no gains or losses. Would I do that before transfer of assets, or after? If before wouldn't that create a seeming tax event for the brokerage account in her name? Also how do bonds held in the account work? There is one individual bond with a maturity date of 9/20. Is there a payable on death component of individual bonds? If so is it payable on demand at par? I think there is appreciation on that bond, over cost, so would I sell it now to capture the appreciation with no capital gain?

Thanks for your input.
I am sorry for your loss.

I would keep her checking account open. Just leave $50 or $100. You sometimes get little refund checks made payable to mom (cable tv, newspaper, insurance, etc...) and it's easiest to deposit directly there. Otherwise you most likely need to do small estate paperwork which most likely can be found online.

For the bond if there is not a POD named I believe they have their own small estate transfer form. It's simple. Just have to wait a certain number of days after death before you can do it.

I wouldn't bother with an attorney or with going to probate court.
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Old 02-11-2020, 10:03 AM   #23
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I can see that for assets that are going through probate.... for example where there are no stated beneficiaries and the assets are going to be settled/distributed through probate.

But if there are designated beneficiaries I would have thought that income up to the date of death would be reported under the decedent's SSN and included in their final tax return and any income subsequent to the date of death would be reported under the beneficiaries' SSNs ..... and since those assets avoid probate they can't be included in the estate's return since they are never assets of the estate.
In the cases I was involved with, the brokerage account was under their living trust. The living trust does require an EIN at death (it is under their SSN while living), as it goes from revocable to irrevocable at death, it's a different entity so needs a different ID.

So if the brokerage is not in a trust, and has named beneficiaries (avoiding probate), it seems it would be handled as you say. It would be good if someone here could confirm that.

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Old 02-11-2020, 10:05 AM   #24
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In the cases I was involved with, the brokerage account was under their living trust. The living trust does require an EIN at death (it is under their SSN while living), as it goes from revocable to irrevocable at death, it's a different entity so needs a different ID. ...
Exactly what happened with my Dad's living trust.
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Old 02-11-2020, 10:18 AM   #25
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I would like to know if I need an EIN, as I hadn't thought of that.
No, you definitely do not need an EIN. The only purpose of this would be if you needed to open an estate account and from your description of the assets and they way they are titled you do not.

Keep in mind income tax returns for your mother. You may need to file one for both 2019 and 2020.
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Old 02-11-2020, 11:00 AM   #26
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In the cases I was involved with, the brokerage account was under their living trust. The living trust does require an EIN at death (it is under their SSN while living), as it goes from revocable to irrevocable at death, it's a different entity so needs a different ID.

So if the brokerage is not in a trust, and has named beneficiaries (avoiding probate), it seems it would be handled as you say. It would be good if someone here could confirm that.

-ERD50
That was exactly what happened when my wife died. I had to get an EIN and file form 1041's every year. Fortunately, in the trust documents was a statement that if the trust balance falls below a certain amount, the trust can be dissolved. That is exactly what I did.
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Old 02-11-2020, 11:59 AM   #27
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Definitly dont close the account for a month, at least since she will get the ss for this month if not already there and, and then you can close the account. (As far as ss payments are concerned.
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Old 02-11-2020, 12:05 PM   #28
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My DIL's father is an estate attorney and a friend. Mom and Dad's attorney has retired, so I think I'll set up an appointment with him or one of his junior associates and ask for advice on how to do this all myself. It won't hurt and I will have the comfort of knowing if I am missing anything.
First off, I am sorry for your loss and understand the "relief" that comes after dementia. As to your post, this is a good idea. Settling the estate should be relatively easy, but spending an hour with a good atty is worth the couple hundred bucks it might cost...good idea making sure you have all you bases covered. Getting an EIN is painless and won't hurt if it's never used. I opened an estate account for my Dad and it's still open a couple of years later and has come in handy for a couple of "floater" checks that have been issued.


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In our experience, the lawyers only made things more difficult and they charged unscrupulous fees when my FIL passed.

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Find a better lawyer.

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Maybe someone can chime in on that, or I may look into my NOLO book later.

-ERD50
So you will use your book and perhaps come back and offer legal advice? Got it.
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Old 02-11-2020, 12:07 PM   #29
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I opened an estate account for my dad's "estate", even though there was nothing to probate, because I ran his refund checks through there. (Mostly because he had debtors chasing him, and it's a long story, but while I paid most of his bills, there was one creditor that we were very upset with.) So I wanted documentation of the money coming in and going out. Anyway, it's a little over 3 years and the account still has $1 in it to keep it open. I think after the statute of limitations on the debt is up I will close it, but no reason to do so yet.
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Old 02-11-2020, 12:26 PM   #30
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Oh, and I paid for an hour's consultation with an estate attorney in my father's area that someone I trust recommended. She did a great job of answering questions, telling me what to anticipate, giving me a plan for handling any issues with creditors, and she even had time left over to call a couple of places while I was there to start transferring or closing accounts. She then answered 2 or 3 emails with helpful, specific advice.

If anyone in the NYC area wants their info, PM me.
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Old 02-11-2020, 12:39 PM   #31
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I think the funeral director notifying SS take care of Medicare since presumably her Part A premiums were deducted from her SS benefits. You should notify United Healthcare for her MA plan.... though they may get a notification through SS.

Dear mother passed from pancreatic cancer ten days ago. Funeral home contacted SS but February direct deposit slipped thru. Visited DMs credit union with death certificate in hand. They took care of returning the payment. Evidently Medicare and MA were notified too as I received a condolence letter from BCBS indicating that it may take up to three months for premium to be refunded. Am co-owner of DMs meager checking/saving account, her only assets, so no probate.
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Old 02-11-2020, 12:56 PM   #32
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Sincere condolences on your loss. It's always rough, no matter what.

When I was in the identical situation, I went to my county probate office just in case, but they told me I didn't have to do anything since the total was under their limit.

Get more copies of the death certificate than you think you'll need. They come in handy more often than you might expect.
^Same answer at Sonoma County office for assets that didn't have a joint owner or designated beneficiaries. For her FIDO account (slightly over 1m) I just needed 1 death certificate & FIDO account #s of all 5 beneficiaries (plus my son's / dtr's / nephew's). The assets were transferred and each beneficiary got a step up basis. Eldest sis spent hers ASAP. Another sister and I gave a boatload to our kids at that point.

on the loss -- it's never easy
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Old 02-11-2020, 12:59 PM   #33
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^Same answer at Sonoma County office for assets that didn't have a joint owner or designated beneficiaries. For her FIDO account (slightly over 1m) I just needed 1 death certificate & FIDO account #s of all 5 beneficiaries (plus my son's / dtr's / nephew's). The assets were transferred and each beneficiary got a step up basis. Eldest sis spent hers ASAP. Another sister and I gave a boatload to our kids at that point.

on the loss -- it's never easy
One final cavaet:

I changed her mailing address to mine. BIG MISTAKE! She loved to donate to charities and I STILL get requests 8 years later. If you change her mailing address use a PO Box.
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Old 02-11-2020, 01:11 PM   #34
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I would keep the checking account open also. You will be surprised how many checks will come made out to her over the next 2 years. Just keep the minimum in it to avoid fees.
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Old 02-11-2020, 01:49 PM   #35
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Dear mother passed from pancreatic cancer ten days ago. Funeral home contacted SS but February direct deposit slipped thru. Visited DMs credit union with death certificate in hand. They took care of returning the payment.
I am sorry to hear about your loss.

Banks are obligated to return the funds under federal law and there is no action required on the part of a beneficiary/account co-owner.
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Old 02-11-2020, 02:34 PM   #36
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I am sorry to hear about your loss.

Banks are obligated to return the funds under federal law and there is no action required on the part of a beneficiary/account co-owner.
Speaking of that. You might want to check Missing money.com Just to see if there is anything out there. I looked for my wife after she passed and found some in Colorado. (we are in Oregon) Also found some for my niece, and Grandpa. Colorado was a bit of a pain so i'm going to let them keep it.
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Old 02-11-2020, 02:46 PM   #37
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If you get down to it, going through probate is where the judge gives you, the executor, the authority to sign for the estate in order to liquidate or transfer assets to the family. It's real estate that's most often the cause of having to probate a will.

Fortunately your mother took care of business, and you're going to be capable of transferring funds and accounts into your name.

You have more need to talk to an accountant rather than an attorney. And skip the probate.

But you'll need to file with the IRS to get the estate a tax number. And you'll need to advertise in the local newspaper or legal periodical two different weeks that your mom has passed and anyone with any claims on the estate needs to speak up.

But the first thing I'd do is transfer all of the funds and accounts possible into your name. Remember that estate income taxes (until liquidated) are higher than most individual tax rates. Move fast, and the estate may not even have to file an income tax return.
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Old 02-11-2020, 02:51 PM   #38
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I'm sure you're totally confused by now with all the conflicting advice, much of it wrong. From the facts you've given, you have no need for an estate account or a tax ID number for an estate. With all the assets payable to you there is nothing to be done other than to present death certificates and possibly file an individual tax return for your mother for 2019 and 2020.


As full disclosure, I'm a trusts and estates attorney and a CPA and have administered simple and complex estates my entire career.


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Old 02-11-2020, 02:52 PM   #39
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You have more need to talk to an accountant rather than an attorney. And skip the probate.

But you'll need to file with the IRS to get the estate a tax number. And you'll need to advertise in the local newspaper or legal periodical two different weeks that your mom has passed and anyone with any claims on the estate needs to speak up.
An attorney (and not an accountant) would tell you about the district's publishing requirements as they are not the same in all jurisdictions. The advice you give is not suitable or legally sufficient where I live.
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Old 02-11-2020, 03:17 PM   #40
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If you get down to it, going through probate is where the judge gives you, the executor, the authority to sign for the estate in order to liquidate or transfer assets to the family. It's real estate that's most often the cause of having to probate a will.


But you'll need to file with the IRS to get the estate a tax number. And you'll need to advertise in the local newspaper or legal periodical two different weeks that your mom has passed and anyone with any claims on the estate needs to speak up.

But the first thing I'd do is transfer all of the funds and accounts possible into your name. Remember that estate income taxes (until liquidated) are higher than most individual tax rates. Move fast, and the estate may not even have to file an income tax return.
I remember the advertising in the paper that the attorney did when my Dad passed, but that estate had to go through probate, because of the way in which the real estate was held. This must be local law on whether or not one has to advertise when there is no probate. At any rate I have been managing her affairs for the last 10 years. I know everything that has gone in and out of her accounts. I did just get a bill from the hospital that she landed in prior to her passing, for meds that were administered, that are not prescription strength. The bill is for $6.85.

It is my intention to present the death certificate this Thursday so I am hoping that there is no estate income tax to file for 2020.


This has been really helpful. Thanks so much.

And yes
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