Post-Mortem Administration

Sagaria Law, P.C. Specialists in Post-Mortem Administration!

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What Is Post-Mortem Administration?

Whenever a loved one passes away their assets must be transferred. A deceased person's assets can go to family, friends, charitable organizations or the government through taxes. Billions of dollars flow through probate and trust administration every year in the United States. Post-mortem administration by an experienced attorney provides the family and friends of the deceased the opportunity to maximize the wishes of the deceased , prevent unnecessary delays and prevent unnecessary taking by the State or Federal government. Some of the numerous benefits of trust administration include:

  1. Fixing inadequate planning
  2. Implementing and sometimes improving good planning
  3. Providing sound administration and management of the estate
  4. Taking advantage of tax planning opportunities
  5. Improving and revising planning

Sagaria Law, P.C. wants to provide to the public valuable administration information on what to do following the death of a loved one. We hope you find the information valuable and contact us for your post-mortem administration needs at 1-866-447-8460. Thank you.

Legal Steps When A Loved One Dies

Determine legal residence of decedent:

  1. If county of legal residence can't be determined easily, see an attorney.
  2. NOTE: THE ANALYSIS ON THIS PAGE APPLIES ONLY TO DECEDENTS WHO ARE RESIDENTS OF CALIFORNIA (other laws apply to residents of other states).
  3. The assistance of a probate attorney is advisable in most cases.

Within weeks of the death:

  1. Locate the Trust, Will and related estate planning documents.
  2. If Will is found, determine name of executor.
  3. If Trust is found, determine name of trustee or successor trustee.
  4. If decedent had no Will or Trust, surviving family should decide on one person to take charge of the estate administration.

Perform immediate tasks, such as:

  1. Copy and send out Will(s) to beneficiaries and heirs. Lodge original Will(s) with the Superior Court.
  2. Send statutory Trust notices to beneficiaries and heirs
  3. Have mail forwarded
  4. Protect the estate and/or trust from identity theft: remove decedent's name and social security number from all accounts and credit cards as soon as possible.
  5. Cancel subscriptions
  6. Inform Social Security of the death
  7. Inform Medi-Cal of the death
  8. Inform County Tax Assessor of the death

Identify and list assets and liabilities:

  1. For each asset, list each of the following:
    1. Fair market value at date of death
    2. Ownership -- indicate any of the following that apply:
      • Trust Property
      • Separate Property
      • Community Property
      • Joint Tenancy
      • Tenancy in Common
      • Life Tenancy
      • Community Property with Right of Survivorship
    3. Portion owned by decedent
    4. Value of decedent's interest
  2. Gather information on each of decedent's liabilities, especially those needing to be kept current, such as mortgages.
  3. Retain any bank or financial statements found in a secure location.

Determine which assets are subject to probate:

  1. Property held in Trust: NO PROBATE
  2. Property payable on death to named beneficiary: NO PROBATE
  3. Property held in joint tenancy and at least one tenant still lives: NO PROBATE
  4. Community property held by a surviving spouse: NO PROBATE
  5. Autos, small boats and mobile homes, if properly registered: NO PROBATE
  6. Real estate outside of California? PROBATE PROBABLE Follow the laws of the state where the property is located.
  7. All other property: PROBATE NEEDED (yes, even if there is a Will)

Determine which type of probate needed. (There are several types of probates. The worst is called "Formal Probate") :

  1. If decedent was married: Property going outright to surviving spouse need not go through probate. It may be transferred by Affidavit or by Spousal Property Order.
  2. Add the value of decedent's interest in all property that must go through probate.
  3. If the sum is greater than $100,000: FORMAL PROBATE required.
  4. If estate includes real estate worth more than $20,000: FORMAL PROBATE required.
  5. If sum is less than $100,000, and includes no real estate, a greatly simplified procedure is used. NO FORMAL PROBATE, but you will need an attorney.

Administer living trusts - Part A: If decedent was married at time of death:

  1. Often the Surviving Spouse is named as sole Trustee. Consult document.
    1. Trustee must follow the directions in the trust document, and also must follow applicable state and federal law.
    2. Trustee is a fiduciary FOR ALL BENEFICIARIES.
    3. Trustee must treat all beneficiaries fairly and with loyalty.
  2. Trusts created by couples frequently call on the Trustee to segregate assets into separate sub-trusts, e.g., AB, ABC, and Disclaimer trusts. ALWAYS see an experienced accountant or attorney regarding this division.
    1. Mandatory funding of Bypass (a.k.a. "Exemption") Trusts and/or Marital Trusts: This must be done. Even if the death occurred several years ago, there may be huge tax benefits to completing the division. See an attorney.
    2. Disclaimer funding of Bypass Trusts and/or Marital Trusts
      1. Surviving spouse has 9 months to execute disclaimer to preserve decedent's estate tax personal exemption.
      2. If decedent and spouse are worth over $1 million, the surviving spouse may want to execute a disclaimer.
      3. Get professional assistance long before the 9-month deadline or your inaction may cost the estate hundreds of thousands of dollars in estate taxes upon the death of the surviving spouse.

Administer living trusts - Part B: If decedent was single at time of death:

  1. Successor Trustee must be properly appointed.
  2. Within a few weeks, the Successor Trustee should consult with attorney, unless experienced as a fiduciary.

Pay Taxes

  1. Tax preparation fees and taxes due should be paid from estate (or trust). However, the executor is personally responsible for seeing that filings and payments are done correctly.
  2. Income taxes:
    1. Decedent's income taxes
      • File returns for decedent's last partial year of life.
      • File returns for recent year(s) in which decedent did not yet file return.
      • Pay taxes.
    2. Estate's income taxes
      • File fiduciary income tax return.
      • Pay taxes.
    3. Document stepped-up basis for transferred property.
    4. Business taxes: File and pay taxes for any business in decedent's estate.
  3. Death Taxes (generally, if estate exceeds $1 million for pre-2004 deaths; $1.5 million for 2004 and 2005, $2 million for 2006-2008, $3.5 million for 2009.)
    1. File IRS Form 706.
    2. File California Inheritance Tax forms.
    3. Pay taxes due.

What you need to know before hiring professional help:

  1. Attorneys
    1. Only attorneys experienced in Probate and Trust Administration should be hired. Ask them about experiences with similar cases.
    2. If possible, meet with your prospective attorney prior to hiring him or her. At the very least, make certain you are comfortable talking with the attorney by phone.
    3. If you are a trustee, your attorney’s fees should be paid from the trust, not from your own money. If you are an executor, the fees should be paid from the estate.
    4. It is important for your probate attorney to be adept at dealing with the Probate Court of the decedent’s county of residence.
  2. Special rules for FORMAL PROBATE:
    1. Attorneys fees for ordinary services in formal probate are capped by law at 4% of the first $100,000 of gross estate value, plus 3% of the next $100,000, plus 2% of the next $800,000, plus 1% of the next $9,000,000, plus 0.5% of the next $15,000,000. For example, maximum fees for a probate estate containing a home worth $1,250,000 would be $4,000 + $3,000 + $16,000 + $2,500 = $25,500.
    2. Most attorneys charge the maximum fees allowed, though the fees are negotiable.
    3. All legal fees must be approved by the court, and are paid from the estate. Only in rare cases are attorneys paid anything prior to the close of the probate.
    4. Attorney's fees are not capped for extraordinary services, such as litigation.
  3. Accountants:
    1. An accountant should be retained in almost every case.
    2. If you hire an attorney, the attorney can work with your accountant, or recommend an accountant for you.

If you find yourself settling an estate, please consider the following:

  1. With professional assistance, the estate will probably be settled more quickly.
  2. Even with professional assistance, you will have to do a lot of work yourself.
  3. Good attorneys can help you minimize the risks of liability and family strife. These risks increase as either of the following increases:
    1. The value of the estate, and
    2. The number of beneficiaries or heirs.
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What Are The Costs of Post-Mortem Administration?

Sagaria Law, P.C. offers incredibly affordable post-mortem administration. You can hire trust administration attorney for as little as $99! Payments plans are available!! Multi-month payment plans give the public access to this once exclusive area of the law. If you have a formal probate administration matter, there is no upfront charge to hire a probate administration attorney, although a deposit for court costs may be required.

state bar of california

Not only is the cost and payment reasonable, the quality of service is unmatched. Our estate planning division is led by attorney Ed Goodson, a State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, Certified Probate, Trust & Estate Planning Specialist Attorney. Ed is a highly trained expert in the field of probate administration, trust administration and estate planning. Joined by Amanda Perez, Sagaria Law, P.C.'s post-mortem administration division has over 25 years of combined experience in protecting people's wealth after death.

How Do I Sign Up?

Call today to talk with one of our administration specialists and schedule your consultation. The number is 1-866-447-8460.

Don't Delay. Protect Your Assets For Your Family & Loved Ones Today.

CALL 1-866-447-8460

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