Articles Posted in Estate Administration

Part of drafting a last will and testament is naming an executor, or a person appointed to carry out the terms of the will. Oftentimes, the author of the will chooses to name a family member or close friend as the executor, leaving his or her estate plans in the hand of a trusted and close individual. Other times, however, it can be just as beneficial to go down a different road and choose a person that you don’t personally know but that you still trust to oversee your affairs.

Appointing a Professional Fiduciary

If you are struggling to think of a trusted person to oversee your affairs, consider appointing a professional fiduciary to serve as the executor to your will (or, in the alternative, as the trustee to your trust or as the agent for your power of attorney). Professionals charge a fee for serving in this capacity, which can either be a fixed hourly rate or a percentage of the total assets in the estate. When you choose a professional fiduciary, this person will take on the same roles and responsibilities that a trusted family member would take on, carrying out the terms of your estate planning documents and making sure everything goes according to plan once you are gone.

Sorting Through Your Options

It can be difficult to figure out which professional fiduciary to trust, if this is the route you choose to take. We recommend that you consider factors such as client reviews, overall cost, and experience in the field when you are looking for someone to serve in this capacity. By conducting an initial consultation with your possible executor, you can begin to form a trusted relationship with that person as you discern whether he or she is the right fit for you.

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Planning ahead and creating a will is important; however, unexpected events can often occur, causing people to reevaluate their will, as well as their Houston estate plan. One such instance is when a will’s executor passes away before the will’s creator, called a testator. This raises the question of who will execute the will. Unfortunately, this is somewhat common, and Houston residents often have questions about the next steps when this situation occurs.

What Happens If the Executor Passes Away?

The executor’s role includes distributing the will’s assets after the testator’s death. However, if the executor precedes the testator in death, there is no person to distribute the person’s assets. Therefore, the court will step in and determine who has the authority to act on the testator’s behalf.

When someone is crafting their will or creating a Houston estate plan, there are many critical decisions they must make. One of the most vital choices is who to serve as the estate’s executor. An executor of an estate is a person appointed to administer the estate of a deceased person, also called a testator. An executor has many tasks they must fulfill, both during the life of the testator, and after they have passed. Although there are many duties an executor must fulfill, it can often be a rewarding position.

What Are an Executor’s Duties?

An executor is responsible for ensuring the deceased’s assets are accounted for, as well as transferring the assets to the people listed in the will. Assets can include cash, stocks, bonds, real estate, or even personal collectibles. Before disbursing the inheritances to the estate’s heirs, the executor must also estimate the value of the estate and pay of all of the debts of the deceased, if they had any. An executor, before the death of the testator, should make sure the testator is keeping a list of assets and debts, properties, and any other relevant information. Overall, the primary duty of an executor is to carry out the wishes of the deceased based on the instructions in their will and estate plan.

10.8.18We’re not talking about what happens to your soul, or if you are headed to a peaceful place, or even what happens to your physical remains. Have you thought about what happens to the world you leave, your family and friends and your possessions, after you die?

Let’s say you don’t believe in anything in particular. Or you’re deeply spiritual and believe that death will be a wonderous journey. Either way, you should devote time and energy to what happens right here on earth after you die, says Forbes in the article, “What Will Really Happen After You Depart?”

No, not just because it’s the right thing to do and not just because you’re curious. It’s because you want your family to remember you for the awesome legacy you plan on leaving, not because of the horrible hot mess you left behind that they spent three years trying to figure it out, while trying to live their lives.

Stern judge wagging fingerWhen Fritz Detmer passed away, he left his son, Tols Detmer, an estate worth several hundred thousand dollars. The terms of the will were that Tols was not to get his inheritance until he turned 18.

Now, Tols is 19 and he is suing his own mother, Charlinette Detmer, for hundreds of thousands of dollars he says she improperly received from the estate.

The lawsuit alleges that Charlinette was supposed to receive $60,000 from the estate, but instead the lawyer administering the estate, Peter Capece, gave her $311,000. It is alleged that Capece gave Charlinette this windfall because she knew that Capece was misappropriating money from the estate for his own benefit.

SurpriseAn aging woman posed a question to The New York Times “Ask Real Estate” columnist regarding her rented apartment. The woman asked if her daughter would be responsible for the older woman’s  signed lease, if she passed away while still a tenant in the apartment. Her question appeared in a recent column, “A Noisy Cafe Next Door.”

The expert’s opinion?

The woman’s estate would owe on the lease and need to make regular payments. However, New York law does provide that the tenant’s estate can attempt to find a new tenant which the landlord must accept if reasonable.

Sold signBaby Boomers have long dictated trends and styles.  Today’s Boomers continue to establish trends as they begin their down-sizing moves.  Estate sales are a growing niche as older adults scale back their lifestyles.  Estate sales have become big business as aging Americans decide that they’d rather let someone else handle the details, according to the Detroit Free Press article, "Estate sales boom with aging demographics."

What is an estate sale? It is an auction where one’s household belongings are put up for sale. They are popular for buyers because estate sales often contain older, valuable possessions that can be purchased at a discount. In fact, some people even make a living out of buying items at estate sales and selling them for retail elsewhere, such as their own shops or on eBay.

As a result, there appears to be two groups of “sellers” who might consider having an estate sale.

Art on sidewalkEstate plans can outline everything from the disposition of family heirlooms to the distribution of vast land and property holdings.  Recently, the $500 million art collection of the estate of shopping center magnate A. Alfred Taubman was in the news.  Taubman’s collection is thought to be one of the most valuable private art collections in the world.

Recently the New York Times published "Sotheby's to Auction A. Alfred Taubman's $500 Million Trove," detailing the war between the rival auction houses as they fought for the right to auction the collection.

Christie's and Sotheby's went back and forth with Taubman's family for months in an effort to win the bid. Both auction houses created mock catalogues for the collection and put exceptional effort into their presentations. The interesting question, however, is why there was a war in the first place?

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