Posted on: 14 January 2021
Are you an executor of a loved one's will? If so, you probably have a lot of work to do. And while some executors can do the work on their own, complex estates need the help of a lawyer. How can you know whether the estate you are executing is complex or simple? Here are five indicators that it's a complex one.
Complex Estates Have Unusual Assets.
Generally, people's estates include things like a primary home, vehicles, bank accounts, and retirement plans. But if you have to manage less ordinary assets like a family business, international accounts, or multiple pieces of real estate, you have a complex estate.
Complex Estates Can't Pay Their Bills.
Is there enough money left in the estate to pay all its bills? Such bills include taxes the deceased owed, estate taxes (federal and state), final expenses, outstanding debts, and medical expenses before the person passed away. And of course, legal and executor fees if necessary. If the funds aren't there to pay everyone, figuring out who to pay may be complicated.
Complex Estates Owe Estate Tax.
Most ordinary estates will fall well under the threshold ($11,700,000 in 2021) to pay federal estate tax. However, many states have their own thresholds, and these are usually much lower—even just a few thousand dollars. Certainly, you'll need an attorney if you must file estate tax returns in either situation.
Complex Estates May Be Challenged.
Does it seem likely that someone involved in the will or estate will challenge the distribution? Even if no one has taken formal action yet, the executor should talk with an attorney. Legal challenges in probate court can be expensive and exhausting. But a good attorney may be able to help you fend off this unfortunate outcome with other solutions.
Complex Estates Involve Trusts.
Special purpose trusts are designed to help keep assets out of the probate realm. However, the executor will need to confirm that all trusts and assets that should be in them are, in fact, legally exempted from probate. If the executor will also distribute any assets to or from a trust, they need to be certain it's done correctly. You may also need to work with the trusts' trustees.
Does the estate you're responsible for have any of these qualities? If so, professional legal help is vital to ensure that not only can you discharge your duties correctly but also that you avoid any personal liability (such as for incorrect taxes). Learn more by meeting with a probate lawyer in your state today.Share